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The top ten prosecutions for Health & Safety in 2019

January 12, 2020

2019 saw some huge fines being on imposed on big companies such as Chevron, DHL, Celsa, Hampshire County Council and 2 Sisters Food. 

 

Chevron - fined £5 million for a refinery explosion

 

Four contractors working in an oil refinery in Pembroke were killed after an explosion in a chemical storage tank. The explosion was caused from flammable gases igniting inside the tank when the workers  had been in the process of draining it. A fifth worker had also been

present, and he has suffered life changing burns following the incident. 

 

It seemed those working for Chevron on the site had failed 'to know or appreciate' the risk of 'flammable vapour' which had actually been building up in the tank over the years. Shockingly a gas test undertaken on the tank a few days prior had failed to alert the worker to any flammable atmosphere, but these results were either miscommunication or 'not understood'. If the results had been clearer, then work would've been stopped it seems the explosion and deaths could've been prevented. 

 

Despite no longer owning the site, having sold it to Valero Energy UK after the incident took place, Chervon will be liable for the £5m fine plus an additional £1m in court costs. Also fined during the same hearing was a specialist cleaning company B&A contacts who had two workers killed in the explosion. They were fined with lesser costs of £120,00 and £40,000 in costs. 

 

Speaking after the hearing, Chevron said it “fully accepts” responsibility and recognised it “did not live up to” its own standards. It had “implemented changes” to avoid another disaster.

 

DB Cargo - £2.7 million fine after young boy was electrocuted. 

 

A 13 year old boy has been left with life changing injuries after making contact with a live current after climbing on top of stationary wagon in Tyne Yard. The disused signal  box in the yard was well known to trespassers in the area but DB Cargo failed to ensure that any non-employees (members of the public) were not exposed to any risks of their health and safety through activities at the site. 

 

During the hearing at Newcastle Crown Court, the company were fined £2.7million with an additional £188,873.89 in costs for the initial charge. They were also fined an additional £33,500 for a "single count of contravention of a requirement to produce information under s.20 of the Health and Safety Work Act of 1974'. This charge was due to DB Cargo's refusal to hand over documentation to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). 

 

DHL - fined £2.6m after a worker was crushed to death in tyre collapse

 

A 50 year old worker was crushed to death inside an office of the DHL storage facility in Coventry. The company had a practice of high and top heavy stacking of tyres in metal frames, which were adjacent to the office but they were too close to each other and had a risk of being knocked over by fork lift trucks. Also, during this event another 3 workers were also injured as a result of the collapse. 

 

Following a three and a half year investigation from Coventry Council, the company had 'fundamentally and systematically failed to manage health and safety' at the site. They had failed to make any sufficient or suitable risk assessments. The DHL group had also been find £2m in 2018 because of health and safety breaches following the death of another worker in Milton Keynes. 

 

Celsa - Fined £1.8m after a steelworks blast killed two men. 

 

Two workers killed, and another 4 seriously injured following the blast in a Cardiff factory after the safety mechanism on an oil heater failed, and didn't shut down when it was too hot,  leading to the explosion. The workers weren't aware the oil levels in the tank had dropped to below the minimum safety levels, nor did they have the sufficient risk assessment training in the event of an incident as Celsa had not put in place steps to ensure the workers carried them out. 

 

During the trial, the judge said Celsa had failed to ensure that the machinery was safe, but they had also failed to ensure the proper safety provisions were in place to protect the workers. He declared that this explosion was entirely preventable, and that all risks should have been recognised prior to any incident taking place. The company were ordered to pay £1.8m within 6 months but also charged £147,771.85 in costs, £120 victim surcharge and a civil case between Celsa and the families of the victims are currently still underway. 

 

Karro Foods - fined £1.8m after two workers seriously injured following a fall from height.

 

 

Two workers suffered a catastrophic fall from height whilst investigating a leak on a factory roof. Both workers had not been informed there was roof lights dotted around the area, these weren't actually visible due to a build up of moss and dirt over the years. During the works, the two employees had stood on a hidden roof light and this quickly gave way due to not being able to withstand the additional weight. 

 

During HSE's investigation, they found that the roof was also made of asbestos cement. The company pleaded guilt to breaching section 2 of the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 and were fined £1,866,000 plus additional costs of £8,019. This incident could've been avoidable if Karro Food's provided the workers with sufficient knowledge for all risks associated with working at height. 

 

Three companies fined after the 2015 death of a five year old girl when she become stuck in a lift. 

 

The five year old and her family had lived in their current property since 2009 and had the assistance of an internal lift due to her brothers degenerative neurological conditions and relied on a wheelchair on a daily basis. The property was managed by Aster Property Ld and the lift was maintained by Orona Ltd (both on behalf of Synergy Housing). The lift in question had been noted as early on as 2013 as having 'one of the Perspex vision panels' damaged, and this was seen and reported by an Orona engineer in early 2015, but wasn't replaced or fixed. 

 

When using the lift in August 2015, her head got stuck through the hole in the perspex panel and as the lift ascended she was trapped. Her family had tried to intervene but were unable to release the lift as they were never given a handle to operate the lift in case of a emergency, nor had their ever been a sufficient risk assessment in place when the family first moved in to the property. 

 

The HSE investigation found a catalogue of failures from all three companies involved and HSE inspector Leo Diez commented 'These companies failed in their duties to put systems in place to ensure the lift in the Brown’s family home was kept safe – more could have been done by Synergy, Aster and Orona'. Synergy Housing were fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £40,000 and Orona were fined £533,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000. 

 

Hampshire Council - fined £1.4m after six year old girl left with a serious head injury. 

 

The six year old girl had been visiting the town of Lymington on 28 December 2015, when she climbed on top of a cast iron bollard whilst playing in a pedestrianized street. The 69 kg bollard was damaged nor was it properly secured, so the extra weight cause the whole thing to topple over, including the child on it. She was consequently left with life changing injuries and spent a period of 6 months in hospital recovering following the incident. 

 The HSE investigation found prior to the incident, Hampshire Council had been notified of the fault on the bollard but monthly scheduled inspections had failed to notice it. The HSE also found insufficient information, instructions and training that had been given to the highways department personnel, and any necessary inspection guidance was misleading. The council was found guilty of breaching section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 and dined £1.4m and costs of £130,632. 

 

2 Sisters Food - fined £1.4m after work injured in a crush incident. 

 

The incident took place at the food processing company in 2012, when a worker on a poultry conveying system was attempting to clear a blockage and was struck by a large metal stillage, and as a result his body was crushed from chest height against the end of the conveying unit. 

 

Following the incident, HSE found that the company had failed to identify any problems with guarding on the machines and also noted that any blockages that needed clearing was usually carried out whilst the machine continued to operate. 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd pleaded guilty of breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety Act 1974 and were fined £1.4 million with an additional £38,00 in costs. 

 

Clancy Docwra - fined £1m after worked struck by excavator and killed. 

 

The site operative had been working a night shift on a construction site and was in the process of disconnecting lifting accessories from a metal pile that had just been extracted when he was struck by a excavator mounted vibrator (EMV) which was attached to a 35 tonne excavator. He was instantly crushed against a concrete wall a short distance away from the working area. The operative closest to him also faced a high risk of also being struck. 

 

Whilst investigating the incidence and the company HSE found that they 'failed to ensure the safety so far as is reasonably practicable of its employees and of others who were not their employees working on the site'. It is worthy to note that Daniel Walsh who was the site supervisor at the time had failed to take reasonable care for persons on the site at the time, both declared not guilty of health ans safety breaches, but both were fined as a result of the incident. 

 

Clancy Docwra were fined £1,000,000 and ordered to pay costs of £108,503.30. Mr Daniel Walsh was given a six month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months and also ordered to pay costs of £15,000. 

 

Veolia - fined £1m after worker run over by a reversing vehicle. 

 

The incident had taken place on site at the Ross Depot Waste Transfer Station in Folkstone. The worker had been walking across the yard when a reversing collection vehicle struck him down and ran over him and the worker suffered fatal injuries. 

 

An investigation into the incident found that multiple vehicles including the collection vehicle and articulated lorries, were actually driving around the yard with no specific controls or instruction. Veolia failed to asses the risks involved in the waste yard nor did they implement industry recognized control measures, there to project the employees. 

 

The company were found guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 and fined £1,000,000 and ordered to pay additional costs of £130,000. 

 

 

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