GB Workplace statistics
Published: 08 Oct 2010
Figures released in October confirmed that Great Britain has the lowest rate of fatal occupational injuries in Europe, and one of the lowest levels of work-related ill health.
They show that between April 2009 and March 2010:
- there were 152 workers fatally injured, down from 179 the previous year;
- there were 26,061 major injuries to employees, such as amputations and burns, compared with 27,894 the previous year;
- there were 95,369 injuries serious enough to keep people off work for three or more days, down from 105,261 the previous year;
- an estimated 1.3 million people said they were suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their work, up from 1.2 million the previous year;
- a further 800,000 former workers are still suffering from an illness caused or made worse by work.
This report is available to view in its original format. Click here to open the PDF.
Walkers flavour too strong
Published: 01 Oct 2010
Snack food giant Walkers and chemical distributor Omnichem have been fined a total of £350,000 after a worker was killed by a cloud of toxic gas.
The poisonous fumes overcame John Marriot in July 2006 as he was delivering chemicals to Walker’s Leicester plant, for use in its starch reclamation unit. The lorry’s tanks separately contained sodium chlorite and hydrochloric acid, and when Marriott accidentally mixed up the hoses he was using to transfer the chemicals at Walkers’ site, they produced dangerous green fumes of chlorine dioxide.
As soon as he realised his mistake, he stopped the transfer process. But as he started to hose the area down, the gas was already affecting him. Chlorine dioxide causes fluid to build up in the lungs, leading eventually to respiratory failure.
He was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary but died a month later when his condition deteriorated.
HSE inspector Sue Thompson said, “This incident was entirely preventable. Basic risk assessments and clear procedure could have avoided Mr Marriott’s tragic death but as it was there were a catalogue of serious failings.”
She continued, “It took about an hour after the appearance of the gas cloud for Walkers to realise the gravity of matters, and to get employees out of the area. Walkers had no planned evacuation procedure for a chemical emergency at this location, which was a major failing. There were insufficient written procedures for deliveries of chemicals and for the receipt of chemicals, and the tanks were also insufficiently labelled.”
Walkers and Omnichem pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of their employees and others. At Leicester Crown Court, the judge fined Walkers £200,000 plus £38,971 costs, and Omnichem £150,000 with costs of £29,229.
For more information, see:
- Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations SI 1999/743.
How low can you go?
Published: 01 Oct 2010
The Annual Report and Statement of Accounts prepared by the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland has shown that the number of injuries at work has fallen since last year.
The figures from April 2009 to March 2010 also state that overall reported injuries are down by over a third since the HSENI was established in 1999. In addition, the number of fatal injury incidents has dramatically decreased, going from 19 in the previous year to 6.
The chairman of the HSENI, Professor Peter Mckie, said, “This is yet again a very significant reduction and I see the continuing downward trend as a clear endorsement of the innovative and challenging approach that has been adopted by HSENI since its establishment.”
He continued, “This approach is based on three complementary strands: the provision of advice and assistance particularly to small businesses; the recognition of good practice amongst both the private and public sectors and the relentless pursuit of those who blatantly flout the law and put the lives of the general public at risk.”
Professor Mckie added, “Credit must also be paid to the work undertaken by the HSENI’s enforcement partners, the District Councils, who have supported the HSENI in its drive to tackle shared priority health and safety issues and have undoubtedly contributed to the improvements seen over recent years.”
Exceedingly big fine...
Published: 01 Oct 2010
A UK food manufacturer has been fined £14,000 after a 65kg metal pillar fell on a maintenance engineer and crushed his skull.
The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for failing to ensure the safety of its employees.
The worker was working at Premier Foods Group Ltd's site at Manor Bakeries in Moreton when a four-metre section of pillar fell on his head. He suffered severe traumatic brain and spinal injuries, and was in hospital for more than six months.
He had been helping to remove cages and pillars from a storage area. An angle grinder was used to cut a pillar, but when levered free at the base it became detached from the ceiling and struck the worker.
The HSE investigation found the company had not properly planned the task, and neither had it trained workers on how to safely carry out the work.
HSE inspector, Phil Redman said, "A man's life has been turned upside down because basic health and safety procedures were not followed. He has been permanently disabled from his injuries and will never be able to return to work. Premier Foods could have brought in specialists to carry out the work but instead the workers were just told to get on with the job.”
He commented that there was really no excuse for a company the size of Premier Foods (it has an annual turnover of £2.6 billion and owns several brands including Mr Kipling, Hovis and Bisto) to make health and safety errors of this kind.
Worker de-skins own hand
Published: 01 Oct 2010
A worker operating a chicken carcass de-skinning machine skinned his own hand this month, in a horrific work accident.
The man was working for Norwich firm, Crown Chickens Ltd, who process around 365,000 chickens every week. The worker’s glove became trapped in the machine, dragging him into contact with the cutting blade. It degloved him and completely stripped the skin on the back of his hand.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive discovered that the machine was not adequately guarded and did not have an emergency stop button.
Crown Chickens Ltd admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £4,000 for the incident and also had to pay legal costs.
An HSE spokesperson said the incident resulted in a very serious and painful injury. Moreover, it could easily have been avoided if the company had taken the correct health and safety precautions.
Environmental Permitting to be amended. Again...
Published: 01 Oct 2010
Defra have launched a consultation aimed at assisting two important energy production processing areas. Amendments will be made to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2010/675 in order to aid the development of anaerobic digestion plants and implement the Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Directive 2009/31/EC through the permitting regime.
Although the deadline for implementing the Directive is not until June 2011, Defra believes that an earlier date will help to clarify its regulatory framework. While almost all CCS activities would be regarded as “Directly Associated Activities” under the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) Directive 2008/1/EC, the CCS Directive amends the IPPC Directive to make sure the capture element of CCS is specifically regulated as an IPPC Annex 1 activity. Such Annex 1 activities are incorporated into Schedule 1 of Environmental Permitting, and are those which require a permit. The storage element of the process will however remain regulated by the CCS Directive, which sets out permit requirements for carbon dioxide storage sites.
The consultation therefore proposes to amend the Environmental Permitting Regulations so the risks of emitting harmful materials associated with the carbon capture process are covered by them, given that carbon capture is to be viewed as an IPPC Annex 1 activity in its own right.
The CCS Directive also amends the Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC, by introducing a further exception prohibiting the direct discharge of pollutants into groundwater. In line with this, Defra plans to introduce a new exception into environmental permitting, namely the injection of carbon dioxide streams into geological formations for storage purposes (which for natural reasons are permanently unsuitable for other purposes). This is regarded as being essential as it removes what would otherwise be a serious regulatory barrier to most CSS schemes.
In addition, the proposals for anaerobic digestion facilities aim to support those plants where gas production does not involve any combustion and where the gas is instead stored and transported off site for use as a fuel. The Environment Agency believes that anaerobic digestion is already sufficiently monitored under environmental permitting as a waste operation. In line with this, Defra proposes to exclude anaerobic digestion plants where no combustion activity takes place from those Part A activities under Schedule 1 to the Environmental Permitting Regulations, so they are excluded from IPPC requirements.
Further information on the consultation can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/env-permitting-regs2010/index.htm.