Chocolate company fined following accident
Published: 20 Jun 2013
Ashbury Chocolates Ltd has been fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,485 at Kettering Magistrates' court after pleading guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations SI 1998/2306. The breach related to an accident in which an employee's finger was partially severed in an inadequately guarded machine.
Joao Countinho was cleaning a machine which pipes liquid chocolate into moulds in February 2012. Having removed the rotors, Mr. Countinho reached up to check that the stirrer cavity was clean but the stirrers were still rotating. His left index finger then became trapped where it was partially severed. It was later amputated in hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the machine was only partially guarded. Although there was an interlocking guard at the top of the stirrer cavity, there was no protective device in place at the bottom, allowing Mr Countinho to reach into the machine even though it was running.
HSE inspector Michelle Morrison said, "This was a serious incident that could have easily been prevented. Ashbury Chocolates Limited had a duty to ensure its employees were protected from the dangerous moving parts of its machines. It failed in that duty. The company has since installed a new guard to prevent a recurrence but it is a pity a man had to suffer a painful injury for that to happen."
Although Mr. Countinho was off work for around three months, he has since returned to the company doing the same job.
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It's Recycle Week!
Published: 18 Jun 2013
This week is Recycle Week - a national event to encourage more people to recycle more things more often.
The annual event is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, and over the past decade the UK has recycled 50 billion plastic drinks bottles, which if laid end-to-end, would stretch to the moon and back ten times over. It has also been revealed that during the same time period, recycling schemes across the UK† have collected materials such as card, paper, plastic and glass worth £2.4 billion.
WRAP Chief Executive Liz Goodwin said, "As a nation, we've come a long way since we first began to take recycling seriously. This is good news for the environment - it means we're sending less waste to landfill and making better use of the natural materials that go into the products we use every day. It is hugely important for our economy. The UK recycling sector now generates more than £13 billion a year in sales of recycled materials, employs more than 40,000 people and contributes around £3 billion-worth of additional value each year to the UK economy."
She continued, "Given this progress you may be asking whether we still need Recycle Week. The truth is, there's still more we can all do to recycle more things, more often - to capture more of the valuable materials that are collected for recycling in our own home. For example, take the humble plastic bottle - householders are now recycling more than 50% of these and most councils now collect them. This is great news, but it means there's still half ending up in landfill."
Recycle Week runs until 23 June, and has a "recycle at home and away" theme. Ideas and information is available from:
Prices of green deal homes predicted to go through the roof
Published: 18 Jun 2013
A study of over 300,000 property sales by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has concluded that installing measures such as loft insulation or efficient boilers to raise a home's energy rating from band G to E could increase its value by up to 38%.
Statistics show that improving the energy efficiency of a house from band G to E could boost its price by over £25,000 for the average house in the North East and £23,000 in the North West, while London homes could experience a £41,000 uplift.
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said the figures showed the "huge potential rewards" of the Government's Green Deal scheme, which aims to improve the UK's draughty housing stock by providing financing packages to cover the upfront cost of refurbishments.
However, the scheme has reportedly suffered relatively low take-up rates to date amidst criticism of the high interest rates attached to the financing packages.
Labour has warned that a household taking out a 25 year Green Deal package worth £10,000 at the standard 6.96 per cent rate of interest would end up repaying close to £21,000 over the course of the loan, potentially undermining some of the resulting increase in house prices.
Industry figures have also revealed a drastic slow down in the roll out of insulation improvements, as previous support schemes have been phased out and the Green Deal has so far failed to replace the demand that has been lost.
However, the Government has maintained that interest in the Green Deal is building and has consistently argued that the combination of competitive interest rates and cash incentives makes the scheme an attractive proposition for many households.
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We're all going on a (safe) summer holiday!
Published: 14 Jun 2013
This summer, the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSE NI) and Gas Safe Register have joined forces to warn against the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning when camping, caravanning or boating, and when using a BBQ.
Most of us are aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide in the home, however incidents and fatalities also occur in caravans and on board boats where faulty gas cookers, appliances or petrol powered generators have led to poisoning. Carbon monoxide has also been linked to deaths where people have brought gas and charcoal BBQs into tents and other small enclosed spaces.
Richard Meredith, Head of Major Hazards at the HSE NI, said, "We want everyone to enjoy their hard earned holiday, but all of us need to be aware that carbon monoxide can be just as deadly away from home. Just because you're camping, caravanning or boating, it doesn't mean you are free from the dangers of carbon monoxide. So please, follow our top tips to help keep you and your family safe this summer."
When using a BBQ of any kind:
- read the manufacturer’s instructions;
- never take a smouldering or lit BBQ into a tent, caravan or cabin - even if you have finished cooking;
- never use a BBQ inside to keep you warm;
- never leave a lit BBQ unattended or while sleeping;
- remember the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness – if concerned, seek medical advice.
If you’re using gas camping equipment:
- read the manufacturer’s instructions;
- never take a gas stove, light or heater into a tent, caravan or cabin unless it is a permanent fixture, installed and maintained correctly;
- check that the appliance is in good order, undamaged and that hoses are properly attached and undamaged - if in doubt get the hoses replaced or don’t use it.
More information on safe camping and caravanning, including carbon monoxide, fire safety, gas and electricity is available from:
Health and safety cited in fishy excuse
Published: 14 Jun 2013
Staff at Waitrose supermarket have refused to fillet a fish for a customer on health and safety grounds, stating that the fish was too slippery. Health and safety is often cited in order to avoid doing something, but this excuse, it has been suggested, may simply have been a cover up for poor customer service.
It is reported that the assistant at the fish counter had agreed to fillet the fish for the customer, but their supervisor then stepped in and said it couldn't be done on health and safety grounds as the fish was too slippery. However, the customer also noted that the supermarket's website states that the customer must only ask if they wanted their fish skinned or filleted.
This story caught the eye of the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Myth Busters Challenge Panel, which said that slippery fish was a fact of life and that their view is "that this is yet another example of poor customer service hiding behind the health and safety excuse."
No covering up bedding firm's atrocious health and safety breaches
Published: 13 Jun 2013
A Rochdale-based bedding firm has been fined £50,000 after inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the majority of its machines were unsafe to use.
Sartex Quilts and Textiles Ltd, which owns the Maison Le Vie and Night Comfort brands, were visited over a two day period in October 2011 when HSE inspectors found dozens of missing or inadequate guards on machines.
Inspectors found that one machine, used to compact bales of quilt, had been wrapped with pieces of cardboard as the only way of protecting workers from the dangerous moving parts inside.
In addition, a loose board had been placed over a large electric motor and pulley system on another machine, and guards were generally found to be in a poor condition or missing altogether.
As a consequence, three Prohibition Notices were issued, stopping some work immediately, and 12 Improvement Notices were issued requiring changes to be made.
Sartex Quilts and Textiles admitted to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. It was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £14,614 in prosecution costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Helen Mansfield said, "This was one of the worst cases of missing or inadequate guards I or my colleagues have ever seen. Every corner we turned, we found another issue.
The company put production before health and safety and put the lives of its employees in danger as a result. Common sense should have meant they didn't use cardboard to cover dangerous moving parts, but that's exactly what we found on one machine.
Hundreds of injuries are reported every year across Great Britain caused by poor or missing guards, and it's only luck that no one has been seriously injured or even killed at Sartex Quilts' factory in Rochdale."