Man from Moira stewing over fine
Published: 24 May 2013
John Lewis, trading as John Lewis Plant Hire and Contracts, has been sentenced at Laganside Crown Court. He received a suspended six month sentence on each of the five counts he pleaded guilty to.
The case arose after the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) visited a demolition site on the Broadway Industrial Estate following a complaint from the general public. In February 2011, they found a building that was in the process of being demolished, and immediately stopped the work due to concerns about asbestos contamination.
A subsequent survey of the site by HSENI's Scientific Services found large quantities of asbestos insulating board and asbestos cement debris present on the ground and amongst building rubble in an area where demolition work was in progress at the site. The same contractor had previously been stopped in 2008, whilst in the process of demolishing other similar buildings on the site without having an asbestos survey carried out.
Following that intervention, Mr Lewis had a survey of all the buildings compiled, including the building he was demolishing in 2011. The investigation revealed he had this asbestos survey in his possession, which clearly showed that the building he was demolishing contained significant asbestos which required a licensed asbestos contractor to remove. Mr Lewis was not a licensed asbestos contractor.
To make matters worse, employees of John Lewis were found on the site of the partial demolition picking pieces of asbestos out of the contaminated rubble without appropriate protection, such as respiratory equipment and showering facilities.
After the hearing Mr Louis Burns, Principal Inspector for the HSENI's Major Investigation Team said, "The dangers of asbestos are well known. It is vital that buildings are properly surveyed for asbestos and that asbestos is removed by a licensed asbestos contractor prior to demolition. If these vital steps are not followed there is the potential for asbestos to be released and spread in an uncontrolled manner. This potentially gives rise to serious health concerns."
For more information, see the:
- Control of Asbestos Regulations (Northern Ireland) SR 2012/179.
Water Resources (Scotland) Act 2013
Published: 24 May 2013
The Water Resources (Scotland) Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 9 April 2013. It is, however, not yet fully in force.
It contains provisions on the abstraction of water, requiring that the abstraction of 10 megalitres or more per day, from any source in Scotland, is approved by the Scottish Ministers.
In addition, it contains provisions regarding the creation of water shortage orders, which can be made in response to a serious deficiency, or a threat of a serious deficiency, of water supplies. Such orders can contain any necessary provisions to abate such deficiencies or threats.
It also makes several amendments to other Acts in relation to water, including the:
Huge fine for BAE Systems after death of worker
Published: 24 May 2013
A global defence company has been fined £250,000 and ordered to pay costs of £97,153 after one of its workers was crushed to death by a 145 tonne metal press.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) described the death of maintenance engineer Gary Whiting, 51, as an "entirely preventable tragedy" caused by the serious safety failings of BAE Systems (Operations) Ltd at its plant in Saltgrounds Road, Brough.
Mr Whiting died in November 2008 while working as part of a four-man team doing routine servicing of a large metal press. Two men were working at one end of the machine and two at the opposite end. The court was told neither pair could properly see the other.
Mr Whiting entered the machine to remove a piece of equipment he’d been using but at the same time, one of his colleagues at the far end started the full test cycle of the press frame. The 45-square-metre frame descended, trapping Mr Whiting. He died the same day in hospital from his crush injuries.
Safety failings uncovered by the HSE’s investigation included an absence of a suitable assessment of the risks associated with the test process and a lack of engineering control measures to prevent entry by workers to dangerous parts of the machine during testing or to stop the machine if anyone did enter a danger zone.
BAE Systems pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at a hearing in April last year.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Mark Welsh said, "The dangers of maintenance work on these types of machines are well-known yet BAE Systems Ltd failed to identify those risks and its serious failings led to this tragedy. Although the press machine had been serviced regularly, it was done in the same unacceptable way and it is surprising there had not been an earlier incident.
The guarding was inadequate and there were no key safety systems, no light guards or interlocks on the doors of the machine; nothing that would have either prevented entry to dangerous parts or stopped the machine if entry was made. In addition, there were no instructions, either written or verbal, given by BAE to workers about how to carry out the testing process safely.
This incident should serve as a reminder to companies to ensure that dangerous parts of their machines are identified and measures taken to properly protect their workers. No company should put its employees at unnecessary risk."
For more information, see:
UK species endangered
Published: 23 May 2013
According to a recent report, one in ten British animal and plant species could disappear. The State of Nature Report was compiled by 25 wildlife organisations and collated assessments of 3,148 species. It pulls together data from individual reports published in recent years charting the fortune of bees, birds, moths and mammals in the UK.
Over the last 50 years, some 60% of British animal and plant species have declined. Amongst those which have fallen the most are turtle doves, water voles, red squirrels and hedgehogs.
According to the document, reasons for the decline are "many and varied" but include rising temperatures and habitat degradation.
Sir David Attenborough, who launched the report, said, "This ground-breaking report is a stark warning - but it is also a sign of hope. We have in this country a network of passionate conservation groups supported by millions of people who love wildlife."
However, Sir David warned that there was no single solution to the problem - "What you have to do to help bats differs from what you have to do to help frogs or butterflies or pond life. Yet each one of these has an organisation which is knowledgeable and willing to help anybody who wants to know how to support these species that they're concerned about."
Defra launch "Smarter Guidance and Data"
Published: 17 May 2013
Defra have launched plans for "smarter guidance and data" - which they hope will make it easier, quicker and clearer to understand what environmental rules apply and simpler to report essential information.
It is an outcome of the Red Tape Challenge and over the next 12 months, Defra and its regulators aim to make significant progress to reform environmental guidance. The findings so far have highlighted that there are over:
- 6,000 environmental guidance documents issued by the Government, and over 100,000 pages, making it incredibly difficult to work out what you need to do;
- 250 separate data reporting requirements which businesses have to report to different places, at different times, in different formats and with varying degrees of duplication.
Public feedback is critical to the success of these reforms, and Defra want to hear your views on what you need from guidance in the following areas:
- wildlife protection;
- waste management and control;
- wildlife management and control;
- land management;
- marine management;
- freshwater management;
- horticultural plant health;
- plant varieties and seeds;
- bee health;
- environmental permits;
- access and landscape;
- general environmental rules (controlling local air emissions, noise and other nuisance issues, effluent, run-off, storing oil and managing chemicals);
- sustainability and energy efficiency;
- flood management and coastal change;
- emergencies, pollution incidents and environmental hazards;
- enforcement and sanctions;
- water management;
- chemicals and biotechnology;
- development (includes Environmental Impact Assessments, contaminated land and land use planning);
- energy, carbon and other greenhouse gases.
The programme will run from May 2013 to spring 2014. Feedback on this initial exercise must be in by 5 July 2013.
For more information, see:
- Smarter Environmental Regulation Review - Phase 1 report: guidance and information obligations;
You can also follow @defraregs on Twitter for the latest news.
Downturn for Abbey
Published: 16 May 2013
An engineering firm based in the Midlands has been fined £133,000 after its emergency plans failed to prevent contaminated fire-fighting water and chemicals from polluting the River Anker.
In April 2010, a large fire broke out at Abbey Metal's Nuneaton metal finishing works. Tackling the blaze resulted in a "cocktail of hazardous substances" being washed into the river, killing some 27,000 fish. Birmingham Crown Court heard that the company's emergency measures were inadequate and that no plan had been made to access the sewerage system for the emergency storage of contaminated water.
Despite the fire service using pollution prevention equipment, water from the site containing cyanides, copper and cadmium from metal treatment processes reached the river running along the back of the site.
The fire qualified as a major incident under the Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations SI 1999/743, which the firm pleaded guilty to breaching, along with three offences under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations SI 2010/675.
An Environment Agency officer commented, "The Agency expects high standards from COMAH establishments. Where accidents are foreseeable, the operator must plan to prevent or mitigate them. This is what Abbey Metal failed to do."