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UK Construction and Building Accidents

UK construction and building accidents frequently account for the most substantial work injury compensation settlements. However, sustaining an injury in construction and building accidents in the UK is not sufficient justification for making a building site accident claim for compensation. It also has to be proven that there was a breach in the duty of care owed to you by your employer or person with responsibility for site safety. As establishing negligence when you have been seriously injured in a UK construction accident can be difficult, you are advised to speak with an experienced solicitor on our freephone injury claims advice service for helpful and practical advice.

Road Worker Injury Claim Strengthened by HSE Prosecution

April 17, 2017

A road worker injury claim, made by a man now paralysed from the waist down, has been strengthened by a successful HSE prosecution against his employer.

On May 23rd 2014, Mark Durrant was one of three men tasked with connecting gas pipes – each weighing 440kg – along a stretch of road in Strood, Kent. Each section of pipe was lifted into place by an excavator and propped across a piece of timber straddling the top of the 1.38 metre-deep trench until the men were ready to connect it.

While Mark was getting himself into position to connect the next section of gas pipe, the timber supporting the pipe snapped. The pipe fell onto Mark´s back, tearing his spinal cord, shattering two lower vertebrae and fracturing two ribs. Mark was taken to hospital, where he underwent eight hours of surgery, but is now permanently paralysed.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation into the accident and found the system of work used on the site was unsafe. It prosecuted Mark´s employer of seven years – Forefront Utilities Ltd – with breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The gas installation denied liability for Mark´s injury, and claimed the system of work was common within the company.

Mark made a road worker injury claim against Forefront Utilities Ltd, seeking compensation for his injuries. The strength of his claim improved last week when Maidstone Crown Court found Forefront Utilities Ltd guilty of failing to discharge its duty of care and fined the company £200,000 plus costs of £56,686. Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Andrew Cousins said:

“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working. If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

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Magistrates Issue Fines for Avoidable Demolition Site Accident

March 18, 2017

Manchester Magistrates have issued fines totalling £15,300 for safety failings that led to a demolition site accident and serious injuries to an employee.

In August 2014, two employees of Access Flooring Specialists Ltd were demolishing a concrete block wall at the Manchester building formerly known as Portland Tower. One of the men started cutting into the wall at the half way point, until the second employee took over and continued from the top of the wall, using step ladders for access.

Unfortunately, as the second man – a 53-year-old father of two from Salford – continued demolishing the wall, the top half of the wall collapsed, knocking him from the stepladder and landing on top of him. He was taken to hospital with a fractured neck and back injuries, where he remained for three months. He has been unable to return to work since the demolition site accident.

Inspectors from the Health & Safety Executive investigated the circumstances of the accident and found that no suitable risk assessment had been conducted for the job. IT was also found that the two men had not been given instructions how to complete the job safely, no checks had been made regarding their experience, and they were not provided with suitable personal protective equipment.

Their employer – Access Flooring Specialists Ltd – and the general contractor in charge of the demolition site – Workspace Design and Build Ltd – were prosecuted for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. Both companies pleaded guilty and, at Manchester Magistrates Court, were fined £1,300 and £14,000 respectively.

Speaking after the Magistrates hearing, HSE Inspector Laura Moran said: “The risks associated with the demolition of the internal walls at Portland Tower were not properly considered and, as a result, there was no safe system of work in place for the operatives to follow. Together with a lack of adequate supervision, these failings resulted in one man suffering serious and life changing injuries in a demolition site accident, which could have been prevented had the work been properly planned and managed.”

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Engineer Makes Compensation Claim for a Leg Injury at Work

September 30, 2016

A man, who was seriously injured when a concrete retaining wall fell on him, has made a compensation claim for a leg injury at work against his employers.

On September 26, 2013, seventeen-year-old Connor Watson was assigned to a team working on the Arbroath Flood Protection Scheme by his employer DJ Laing (Contracts) Ltd. In order to replace a broken pipe, Connor was asked to remove a letterbox of blocks from under the arch of the former Arbroath to Forfar railway.

Unfortunately, after Connor had removed the fifth block, the concrete wall that was being supported by the letterbox gave way, and its 0.46 tonne weight fell onto his legs. Both of Connor´s legs were crushed in the accident and although he has regained his mobility, it is expected that Connor will suffer from arthritis by the time he is thirty years of age.

An investigation into the accident by the Health and Safety Executive found that DJ Laing had not obtained sufficient information about the structure of the engineering site in order to take reasonable precautions to prevent Connor´s accident. The company was prosecuted for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act and fined £32,000 by Forfar Sheriff´s Court in November 2015.

Although he was able to return to work in May 2014 under JD Laing´s “return to work” rehabilitation program, Connor is unable to run and will never be able to play football again. In addition to the permanent scarring on his legs, Connor will likely be disadvantaged in the labour market due to the high risk of him suffering from arthritis.

After seeking legal advice, Connor made a compensation claim for a leg injury at work against his employers. Connor´s solicitor told the Forfar Evening Post that, as negligence has already been established, the only issue that needs to be resolved is how much compensation his client is entitled to for the extent of his injuries, his past and future loss of income and loss of future pension income.

David J Laing, Managing Director of DJ Laing Group Ltd, said: “I confirm that Connor is currently employed by DJ Laing (Contracts) Limited and was involved in a serious accident on one of our civil engineering sites in September 2013. Connor is currently undertaking a return to work rehabilitation programme and the matter of compensation is being dealt with by our insurance company.”

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School Admits Liability for Employee Fall from Roof Accident

August 12, 2016

The Brentwood School in Essex has been fined £40,000 by Chelmsford Crown Court after admitting liability for an employee fall from roof accident.

In February 2015, sixty-three year old Keith Chandler was one of a team of maintenance engineers that were restoring the Grade II listed Newnum House at the Brentwood School in Essex. On February 17th, Keith used a ladder to climb onto the roof of the bay window he was helping to repair, when he lost his footing and fell 2.6 metres to the ground.

As a result of the employee fall from roof accident, Keith damaged five vertebrae, bruised a kidney and suffered a hairline fracture to his shoulder. Although he was back at work six weeks later, Keith is still unable to lift heavy loads, climb ladders or work at height. His injuries have also affected the enjoyment he gets from playing with his grandchildren.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the employee fall from roof accident an found that there had been a failure to conduct a risk assessment before the job was started, a failure to install guardrails or other protection to prevent employees falling from the roof, and that there was no supervision of the maintenance engineers.

The school´s trust – the Brentwood School Charitable Incorporated Organisation – was prosecuted for breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 despite having a robust health and safety policy. The HSE´s inspectors said that, although policies existed, they had not been enforced during the restoration of Newnum House.

At this week´s hearing of the Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge Charles Gratwicke heard former maintenance manager – Anthony Bridger – admit it was difficult to enforce the school´s policies during the restoration work because the team of maintenance engineers were “old school and just wanted to get on with the job in the easiest way”.

Representatives of the school´s trust acknowledged that the work was not closely supervised and admitted liability for the employee fall from roof accident. Commenting that the outcome could have much graver if Keith had fallen onto his head, Judge Gratwicke fined the school £40,000 and ordered it pay £1,477 costs.

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HSE Releases Figures for Fatal UK Workplace Accidents in 2015/16

July 7, 2016

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has released details of fatal UK workplace accidents for the twelve months to 31st March 2016.

The figures relating to fatal workplace accidents in the UK are provisional but reveal a slight increase in the number of employees and self-employed workers who were killed in workplace accidents, from 142 in 2014/15 to 144 in 2015/16.

The figures exclude employees killed in road traffic accidents, or those travelling by sea or air when they were killed, as well as deaths attributable to industrial diseases – estimated to be around 13,000 each year. They also exclude fatal UK workplace accidents in Northern Ireland.

Also absent from the HSE figures for the first time are fatal workplace accidents in the UK in premises registered with the Care Quality Commission. Since April 2015, workplace fatalities in locations such as care homes, hospitals and mental health facilities are no longer included in the annual report.

Within key industrial sectors, 43 workers died in construction, 37 workers lost their lives in service industry jobs, while there were 27 deaths each in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. The remaining ten deaths occurred in the mining, utilities, waste and recycling sectors.

In addition to the 144 employee and self-employed workers who lost their lives in fatal workplace accidents in the UK, 103 members of the public were killed in accidents on retail premises, in care home facilities or on public transport – down from 127 in 2014/15.

It is important to note that the number of deaths does not directly correspond with the number of fatal UK workplace accidents as some accident result in multiple fatalities. For example, eight lives were lost in three of the accidents in the manufacturing section.

The HSE´s provisional figures are compiled only on accidents that are reported through the RIDDOR process and only when an employee or self-employed worked has died within a year of an accident. Consequently the confirmed number of deaths due to fatal UK workplace accidents will not be published until July 2017.

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Council Paid £25,620 Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome Compensation

June 24, 2016

The Derby Telegraph is reporting the city council paid £25,620 hand arm vibration syndrome compensation to an employee who was injured using a chainsaw.

The payment of hand arm vibration syndrome compensation was the largest individual settlement paid by Derby City Council in 2013/14, but at the time no details were released regarding how the injury was sustained, the gender of the claimant, or even that the injured party was a council employee.

Now, following a Freedom of Information Request to the local authority, the Derby Telegraph is reporting that the claimant was indeed a council employee and that his injury was caused by the prolonged use of a chainsaw.

Commenting on the value of the settlement, Derby GP Dr John Grenville said that the man must have suffered a substantial injury to warrant a £25,620 settlement of hand arm vibration syndrome compensation and speculated that the claimant must have lost sensation in one of his hands.

Dr Grenville added that hand arm vibration syndrome is one of the commonest causes of industrial injury claims, and that the employee would have used the chainsaw for a number of years without care being taken for his health and safety by his employers.

The news of the settlement of hand arm vibration syndrome compensation comes just three months after two Derbyshire subsidiaries of the construction giant Sandvik were fined a total of £292,000 for health and safety failings that led to employees suffering hand arm vibration syndrome injuries.

Sandvik Mining & Construction and Sandvik Construction Mobile Crushers & Screeners both pleaded guilty at Derby Crown Court to breaches of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 following separate investigations by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

HSE inspector Edward Walker said after the hearing: “There is a well-known health risk associated with exposure to hand arm vibration and it is important that measures are put in place to manage the risk. Exposure to hand arm vibration can cause debilitating affects which could have been avoided.”

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Company Fined for Employee Leg Injury in a Workplace Accident

February 1, 2016

A Manchester manufacturing company has been fined £12,000 for health and safety failings that resulted in an employee leg injury in a workplace accident.

Bendcrete Leisure is an established manufacturer of concrete sports apparatus – most well-known for its skate parks and climbing walls. The company also produces concrete table tennis tables for outdoor sports venues, and it was while several concrete table tennis tables were being prepared for transportation that the accident occurred.

On 20th February 2015, the unnamed employee was using an overhead crane to manoeuvre one of the concrete table tennis tables towards a stack of four other tables. The tables had been balanced on top of two half-empty resin barrels and, as he lowered the fifth table onto the stack, the resin barrels collapsed under the weight.

The employee was standing between the tables and the crane stanchion; and, as the resin barrels collapsed, the stack of table tennis tables – each weighing a ton – fell onto him, crushing his legs. Colleagues were able to free the employee, who was taken by ambulance to nearby Wythenshawe Hospital. He spent ten weeks in hospital recovering from his injuries, but has been unable to return to work since his accident.

The employee leg injury in a workplace accident was investigated by the Health & Safety Authority (HSE). Inspectors found that the task of manoeuvring the table tennis tables had not been planned, supervised or carried out safely. The HSE subsequently prosecuted Bendcrete Leisure Ltd for breaches of Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

At Trafford Magistrates´ Court, the company accepted liability for the employee leg injury in a workplace accident and pleaded guilty to the charges. Bendcrete Leisure Ltd of Stalybridge in Manchester was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,495 costs by Magistrates hearing the case.

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Scaffolder Sustains Injuries in Sainsburys Work Accident

March 5, 2015

Westminster Magistrates Court has heard how a scaffolder sustained serious injuries in a Sainsburys work accident due to the negligence of his employer.

James Whelan was working for the scaffolding company Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd on a project to extend the existing Sainsburys supermarket in Wandsworth, West London. On August 8th 2013, as James walked along an area between the existing store structure and the new extension, he stepped onto a section of plasterboard which he believed was covering the secure walkway.

As the fragile material snapped under his weight, James (31) fell seven metres to a stairway below. He was James was taken to hospital, where he received treatment for a fractured spine, fractured pelvis, four broken ribs and a bruised lung. James – from Wimbledon in Surrey – is still not fully recovered from his injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the Sainsburys work accident and concluded that more could have been done to prevent the chances of a fall from the roof – such as securing the integrity of the walkway with guard rails and providing stronger covers where fragile materials existed.

Bowmer and Kirkland Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE for contravening the Work at Height Regulations 2005; and, although the Derbyshire-based company acknowledged responsibility for the Sainsburys work accident, said that it had tried to reduce the risk of an accident by restricting access to the walkway.

Westminster Magistrates fined the company £6,000 with a further £1,428 in costs, after which HSE Inspector Gavin Pugh said: “The hazards presented by fragile surfaces and open edges are clear, and it is common knowledge that falls from height account for almost half of all deaths and serious injuries on construction sites. As such, companies like Bowmer & Kirkland should be fully aware of what needs to be done to adequately protect workers”.

“The safety standards surrounding the walkway and fragile area fell some way short on this occasion, and it could have cost the scaffolder his life. He suffered painful injuries that still cause him pain and discomfort, but he could just as easily have been killed.”

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Company Fined for Fatal Fall from Height Accident

February 6, 2015

A Cumbria building company and its owner have been fined and sentenced for corporate manslaughter after an employee died in a fatal fall from height accident.

On 25th October 2011, Jason Pennington (42) was fixing a leak in the roof at the West Cumberland Farmers depot in Lindal-in-Furness, Cumbria, while working for the building company Peter Mawson Ltd.

As Jason moved across the fragile roof, he stepped onto a skylight – which gave way, and caused Jason to fall seven metres onto the concrete floor below. Jason was rushed to Furness General Hospital but died a short time later.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the fatal fall from height accident and found that no measures had been taken to make working on the fragile roof safe, or to prevent a fatal fall from height accident should the roof give way.

The building company and its owner – Peter Mawson – were prosecuted for corporate manslaughter and for failing to ensure the safety of employees contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act. Peter Mawson pled guilty to the charges made against him and his company when the case was first heard in Preston Crown Court in December.

On Tuesday (February 3rd) the fines and sentences for the fatal fall from height accident were announced. The company was fined £200,000 for the corporate manslaughter offence, and £20,000 for the breach of Health and Safety regulations.

Peter Mawson was sentenced to eight months in prison (suspended for two years), 200 hours unpaid work, and ordered to advertise what had happened on his company´s website and in the local newspaper. He was also told to pay costs of £31,504.

Speaking after the fines and sentences had been announced, Chris Hatton – the investigating inspector at the HSE – said: “Jason tragically lost his life because the company that employed him did nothing to make sure he was safe while he worked on a fragile roof”.

H2 continued: “Peter Mawson knew the clear panels on the roof weren’t safe to walk on but neither he nor his company provided any equipment to prevent workers falling to their death. If scaffolding or netting had been fitted under the fragile panels, or covers had been fitted over them, then Jason would still be here today.”

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Company Fined after Hospital Fall from Roof Accident

January 14, 2015

A Lancashire company has been fined £10,000 by Preston Magistrates for health and safety failings which resulted in a fall from roof accident at a hospital.

On 17th October 2013 an unnamed seventeen-year-old mental health patient suffered serious injuries in a fall from roof accident at the Royal Preston Hospital in Fullwood, Lancashire. According to an investigation into the accident, the teenager had accessed scaffolding that had been erected to replace part of the roof of the hospital, and climbed to the top.

From there, the female mental health patient walked across the roof, but fell six metres to the ground when trying to navigate a gap between two buildings. The teenager broke her back and pelvis in the fall and was hospitalised for several weeks.

The company responsible for erecting the scaffolding – W Hughes and Son Ltd, of Preston, Lancashire – was found liable for the fall from roof accident on the grounds that the company had failed to properly fence off the steps which led up to the scaffolding tower.

W Hughes and Son Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HS) for breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and because their negligence had resulted in the fall from roof accident.

The company pleaded guilty to the charges at Preston Magistrates Court and was fined £10,000 plus an additional £516 in prosecution costs. Speaking after the fine for the fall from roof accident had been announced, HSE inspector Chris Smith said:

“A vulnerable teenager was badly injured because W Hughes and Son Ltd failed to make sure its scaffolding was properly fenced off. Construction firms have a legal duty to make sure construction sites are secure and clearly signed but that didn’t happen in this case. It’s vital that companies think carefully about how they plan projects in public places, such as hospitals, so that members of the public are not put at risk”.

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Forklift Injury Compensation Claim Goes to Court

December 22, 2014

A welder´s forklift injury compensation claim is going to court despite his employer acknowledging liability for injuries in the accident.

Scott Fewster (40) from Wisbech in Cambridgeshire made his forklift injury compensation claim after being injured in an accident at the Highline Extreme manufacturing warehouse in Downham on May 21st 2010.

Scott had been working in the warehouse when a 40Kg frame fell from a forklift and knocked him to the ground. He suffered head and neck injuries in the accident as well as severe bruising to his body and soft tissue injuries to both forearms.

Due to the nature of his injuries, Scott was incapacitated for three months after the forklift accident, was unable to drive and needed help to complete day-to-day chores. He underwent three operations on his hands, but still has reduced sensation and often drops things.

According to Scott´s forklift injury compensation claim, he still suffers from occasional pain in his head, dizzy spells and stiffness in his neck. Scott claims his ongoing disabilities prevent him from pursuing his regular pastimes of judo, table tennis and drumming.

After recovering from his injuries, Scott returned to his job, but was unable to cope with the work and left the company a year later. Scott was unemployed from October 2010 until February 2013, but is only able to perform light duties and unlikely ever to return to heavy manual labour because of his injuries.

Highline Extreme acknowledged liability for Scott´s injuries in October 2010 after being issued with an Improvement Notice by the Health and Safety Executive to formulate a safe system of work for loading and unloading lorries using a forklift truck.

However the two parties have been unable to agree a settlement of Scott´s forklift injury compensation claim and the case has been scheduled to be heard at the High Court in London in the New Year, by which time an assessment of Scott´s injuries will have been conducted by a consultant neuropsychiatrist.

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Company Fined for Roofing Contractor Accident and Injury

December 11, 2014

Westminster Magistrates have fined a building firm £6,118 after a hearing into a roofing contractor accident and injury case in which a carpenter fell through an unprotected rooflight.

On 20th March 2014, the unnamed carpenter was carrying insulation materials across the single-storey roof of a property that was being built in Brent, North-West London. As he walked along the roof, the carpenter failed to notice an unprotected rooflight and fell through the opening – landing on two and a half metres below on open joints.

The carpenter suffered concussion, a head injury and a broken collarbone in his roofing contractor accident and injury fall and underwent surgery to have a metal plate inserted into his shoulder. Fortunately he has since made a full recovery and has been able to return to work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the roofing contractor accident and injury, and found that the company the carpenter had been working for – Charles Henderson Construction – had failed to put into practise the findings of a risk assessment.

The HSE found that the openings on the roof and the edges of the roof were unprotected, and that the company had failed to put suitable measures in place to prevent a roofing contractor accident and injury.

The HSE prosecuted Charles Henderson Construction with breaches of the Work at Height Regulations and – at Westminster Magistrates Court – a representative of the company pleaded guilty to the charges. Magistrates fined the company £5,000 for the roofing contractor accident and injury plus £1,118 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephron Baker Holmes commented: “This was a preventable incident. The risks of falling during roof work are easily understood, even from a single-storey level. The company needed to do something about these risks, but it failed to put in place the safeguards that are standard practice in the industry as well as common sense – edge protection, covers over roof openings”.

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Company Fined for Electric Shock Injury at Work

November 28, 2014

A Wiltshire construction company has been fined £20,000 for negligence which led to one of its employees suffering a serious electric shock injury at work.

Crane operator Lee Burge (38) from Bristol was working on a construction project at the Trowbridge Rugby Club in March 2013 when, as he started to lift a section of steel with his crane, the hook block came into contact with an 11kV power line.

Lee suffered a serious electric shock injury at work which left him unconscious. He was rushed to hospital after being resuscitated at the construction site, but he now suffers from long term memory loss.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into Lee´s electric shock injury at work and discovered that his employer – Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd – had been warned about the presence of overhead power cables, and had received advice on the removal of the power supplies running across the site from the electricity company.

However, Ashford Homes had failed to act on the advice it had received, and no measures had been put in place by the construction company to prevent plant and equipment working around the area beneath the power lines, or for the power supply to be isolated or diverted.

The HSE prosecuted the construction company for breaching Regulation 34(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and, at Swindon Magistrates Court, Ashford Homes pleaded guilty to the charges brought against them.

Magistrates fined the company £20,000 and ordered it to pay £5,159 in costs; after which HSE inspector Ian Whittles commented: “Work near overhead power lines should be carefully planned and managed so that risks from contact or close proximity to the lines are adequately controlled. Ashford Homes failed to do this. Luckily Mr Burge was resuscitated, but he now suffers from life changing complications due the electric shock injury at work he received”.

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Wirral Man Receives Compensation for Brain Injury at Work

November 24, 2014

A Wirral man has received a settlement of compensation for a brain injury at work after his employers were found responsible for the circumstances of his accident.

Tom Williams (65) from Prenton on the Wirral was working at Manor Bakeries in Moreton as a maintenance engineer when, on July 24th 2008, he and his team were assigned the task of moving cages and pillars in order to create a segregation area between pedestrians visiting the bakery and forklift trucks that operated in the warehouse.

As Tom was using an angle grinder to cut away the bottom section of a pillar, a four metre beam fell from the ceiling and hit him on the head. Tom suffered life-changing injuries as a result of the accident – which included fractures to his neck and swelling to his brain. Part of his skull had to be removed and Tom spent the next seven months in hospital – six weeks of which were in intensive care.

Since his accident, Tom has developed aphasia and dysphasia, which limit his ability to understand and process words. He also suffers from fatigue, unsteadiness, right-sided hearing loss, tinnitus, neck pain and is prone to depression. Tom´s wife, Barbara, has also suffered from depression and has had treatment from a psychologist to help her come to terms with her husband’s injuries.

In September 2010, Manor Bakeries were fined £14,000 by Wirral magistrates for breaches of health and safety regulations which included the failure to conduct a risk assessment or provide training to the maintenance team who were tasked with removing the pillars. Subsequently, Tom´s family made a claim for compensation for a brain injury at work.

Already found guilty of negligence, Manor Bakeries acknowledged their liability for Tom´s injuries and a package of compensation for a brain injury at work was negotiated which includes an immediate lump sum and guaranteed, index-linked payments to provide for Tom´s care needs for the rest of his life.

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Worker Awarded Compensation for Pile Cropping Accident

November 11, 2014

A construction worker has been awarded compensation for a pile cropping accident in which he suffered severe leg injuries which have prevented him working since.

In March 2013, Jamie North (49) from Grimsby in North East Lincolnshire was working on the construction of a new school building at the Caistor Grammar School and installing pre-cast concrete foundation piles. The six-metre long piles were driven into the ground by a piling rig in an upright position until they were set. The protruding part of the piles was then supposed to be cropped using a hydraulic pile cropper.

According to evidence at Lincoln Magistrates Court, Jamie´s employers – Topcon Construction Ltd – had failed to hire a pile cropper that was suitable for cutting through the four steel bars in the concrete piles, so Jamie and his colleagues had been forced to use the pile cropper they were provided with to nibble away at the concrete, and then cut through the steel bars with a disc cutter.

As Jamie was guiding the cropper over one of the protruding piles, one of his colleagues pushed the top of a nearby pile over without having fully cut through one of the steel bars. The top of the pile twisted and fell onto Jamie – fracturing his leg in several places.

Jamie required two operations in order for the leg to heal – one of which involved fitting a steel frame to keep the bones in his leg together. He also required surgery after a blood clot developed in his broken leg and spent twenty-one days in hospital. After his discharge, Jamie was off work for a year and is still undergoing treatment to the lower part of his leg. He will never again be able to work in the construction industry.

At Lincoln Magistrates Court, the magistrates found Topcon Construction Ltd guilty of breaches in the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 1998. They fined Topcon Construction Ltd £10,000 plus costs, and ordered that the company pay Jamie a further £10,000 compensation for the pile cropping accident.

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Company Fined after Fatal Crane Accident at Work

October 27, 2014

A company from Oldham has been fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 in prosecution costs after a fatal crane accident at work in which one of its employees died.

On 11th July 2011, Michael Wickstead (63) from Radcliffe in Greater Manchester was working for Refinery Supplies Ltd in nearby Chadderton – a company which manufactures specialist supplier equipment for the lead and zinc refining industry.

Michael had been working on the manufacture of a three-tonne steel container, which was resting on a stand being held in place by chains from an overhead crane. A colleague was moving another container with an overhead crane when the two cranes collided – causing the container that Michael was working on to topple over and crush him.

Michael died from the injuries sustained in the fatal crane accident at work, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the circumstances of his death. The investigation discovered that there was no clear working system in place to prevent employees from being injured in crane accidents, and no safety mechanisms implemented – such as anti-collision devices – to prevent the two cranes from coming into contact with each other.

Refinery Supplies Ltd was prosecuted with a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and, at Manchester Crown Court, representatives from the company pleaded guilty to the charges and for failing to take the safety precautions which could have prevented the fatal crane accident at work. The company was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 in prosecution costs; after which HSE Inspector Helen Jones said:

“Michael sadly lost his life because the safety standards of his employer fell well below the minimum legal standards. “Refinery Supplies knew there was a risk of cranes colliding at the factory and, in fact, this had happened on several previous occasions without the same catastrophic result. However, the firm failed to take any action to make sure workers weren’t put at risk of being injured”.

“It’s vital that manufacturers carefully consider the dangers facing their employees and then implement safety improvements. If Refinery Supplies had done this then Michael’s tragic death could have been avoided.”

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NHS Fined for Asbestos Exposure Risks

August 25, 2014

The West Hertfordshire NHS Trust has been fined £55,000 after asbestos exposure risks were identified by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Between April 2000 and December 2011, the “Estates Team” – a team of NHS employees whose job it is to carry out minor repair and maintenance projects – was maintaining buildings at three Hertfordshire Hospitals without knowing that the environments in which they were working contained asbestos.

Over the eleven-year period, the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust had identified some of the asbestos materials at the Watford General Hospital, St Albans Hospital and Hemel Hempstead Hospital, but did not have an asbestos monitoring plan in place or a management plan to control asbestos exposure risks.

It was only when a comprehensive survey of the sites was conducted in 2011 that the NHS Trust became aware of the scale of the problem, and that members of the Estates Team could have disturbed asbestos fibres unwittingly – with no way of knowing or protecting themselves from the risks of exposure to asbestos.

When the results of the survey became known, the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust immediately put control measures in place and alerted the HSE; however, the extended period during which unprotected work had been carried out on the Trust´s buildings meant that many NHS employees had been subject to asbestos exposure risks.

At the St Albans Crown Court, the NHS Trust pleaded guilty to four breaches of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 and a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The court took a dim view of the “major failure” on the Trust´s behalf and issued a fine of £55,000 plus £34,078 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, Sandra Dias – one of the HSE inspectors involved in the prosecution – said “West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust did not adequately manage the risk over an 11-year period. As a result, a number of its employees will now have to spend the rest of their lives not knowing whether they have been exposed. We all hope that none will suffer as a result.”

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Company Fined for Fall from Height Accident on Farm

April 14, 2014

An electrical contractor has been fined by Northallerton Magistrates’ Court for failing to take safety precautions which resulted in a fall from height accident on a farm.

Magistrates heard how Austin Gregg (trading as Gregg Electrical) from Masham in North Yorkshire had employed two apprentices to help him install solar panels on the roof of a barn located at Leyburn Farm – also in North Yorkshire.

On 26th June 2013, one of the 16-year-old apprentices had been asked to retrieve a tool from the roof of the barn on which the solar panels were installed and, without thinking to put a harness on, the unnamed teenager went up onto the roof, stumbled and fell through a partially covered rooflight onto the concrete floor below.

Remarkably, the teenage worker suffered only severe bruising from his fall from height accident on the farm, but a subsequent HSE investigation found that Gregg had taken insufficient precautions to prevent such an accident occurring. Inspectors determined that, even if the apprentice had used a harness for his safety, the fixing points were inadequate and had not been tested.

The Magistrates fined Gregg £2,000 with £505 in costs for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. No injury claim for the fall from height accident on the farm has yet been filed, but as the injured apprentice was only sixteen year of age at the time of his fall, he has three years from his eighteenth birthday in which to claim compensation for his injuries according to the UK Statute of Limitations.

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Company Fined for Employees Burned in Accident at Work

March 28, 2014

A company has received a substantial fine for health and safety failings which resulted in two employees being burned in an accident at work.

Pontypridd Magistrates were told how, on December 16 2012, a fire broke out in a tower housing a rotary drier on Maxibrite´s coal briquette manufacturing plant in Llantrisant. Having been alerted to the fire, Maxibrite works manager Simon Gilbody tried to extinguish the flames by hosing the tower.

When this failed, Simon and another Maxibrite employee – Carl Lewis – attempted to open an inspection hatch at the foot of the tower to release obstructions. However, as Carl opened the inspection hatch, hot coals and cinders cascaded out of the opening – burning Simon´s neck, face and chest.

Carl attempted to close the hatch door, but he too was burned in the accident at work and had to undergo a skin graft operation in hospital for the severe burns he received. Simon was allowed home after receiving treatment from the paramedics who attended the accident.

An investigation into the accident was undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE); who discovered that Maxibrite had not carried out a risk assessment for the possibility of the rotary drier causing a fire nor informed their staff on the procedures to follow should a fire break out.

Maxibrite were prosecuted for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and told to improve their staff training to include instructing employees that might be using fire-fighting equipment on its proper use.

At Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court, representatives of Maxibrite pleaded guilty to both charges. Magistrates fined the company a total of £20,000 for the negligence which led to two employees being burned in an accident at work and ordered the company to pay £5,115 in costs.

Speaking after hearing, HSE inspector Steve Lewis said that the two employees burned in the accident at work were fortunate not to have suffered more serious injuries, and commented that all employers should inform their employees of the proper procedures to follow should a fire break out at work.

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Company Prosecuted after Fall from Roof Accident

August 12, 2013

A construction company in Essex has been successfully prosecuted by the HSE after an employee suffered a spine injury in a fall from a roof accident.

The employee – who did not wish to be named – was helping to construct a new roof on a community centre in Titchfield, Hampshire in August 2011, when he fell four metres through an exposed hole in the roof left for a skylight. Landing on his back, the employee suffered major spine injuries which left him unable to work for six weeks.

A later Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the skylight hole had not been protected with a covering or guard rail, and that there were no safety nets underneath the roof to arrest the fall of somebody falling through the hole and prevent an injury from occurring.

The company for who the man worked – Prestigue Construction Services Ltd of Rainham, Essex, were prosecuted for breaches of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and, at Portsmouth Magistrates´ Court, the company received a fine of £30,000 plus £9,000 in costs after pleading guilty to the offences.

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