Sports club charged with corporate manslaughter after speedboat tragedy
Published: 27 Nov 2013
A sports club has been charged with corporate manslaughter and fined more than £130,000 after it pleaded guilty to a number of health and safety failings which led to the death of a young girl.
The judge at Southwark Crown Court fined Princes Sporting Club Limited, which ran the now defunct Princes Club Water Sports Park, "every penny it has" after bosses admitted the corporate manslaughter of 11 year-old Mari-Simon Cronje when she was flung from a banana boat.
Mari-Simon, from London, fell from the speed boat at a friend's birthday party, but because there was no observer on board, the driver didn't realise she had fallen into the water and ran her over, causing severe injuries.
Parents of some of the children were watching from the lakeside and attempted to leap into the water after failing to get the driver's attention. Paramedics arrived soon after but despite extensive attempts to revive her, Mari-Simon did not regain consciousness.
A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said the use of safety procedures was "flawed at every level" at the water park. It added the helmet Mari-Simon had been issued with was a grey colour that was difficult to see in the lake water.
Summing up, Judge Alistair McCreath said, "The first thing that obviously must be said in this very unhappy case is a word of sympathy and a word of acknowledgement of the dreadful grief and terrible loss suffered by those who loved Mari-Simon. And of them there were plenty."
He said that if the company was still solvent he would have slapped it with a bigger fine that would have led to its closure. The judge also criticised the Bedfont-based company for not having a spotter on board, saying it was "absolutely obvious" one was needed, and that the case was a particularly serious example of corporate manslaughter.
The club's director Mr Walker also denied a charge of neglect by a director, which accuses him of responsibility for the alleged health and safety failures which led to Mari-Simon's death. No action was taken by the prosecution and a not guilty verdict was issued by the judge.
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London tops "elf and safety" charts
Published: 22 Nov 2013
New analysis has revealed that more people in London and the South East have reported ill-founded health and safety excuses than anywhere else in the UK.
The Health and Safety Executive has looked at the national spread of all reports to the "Myth Busters Challenge Panel" - which was designed to clamp down on bogus health and safety excuses. The results show that more people report that they're told "sorry, can't do that because of elf and safety" in the capital and the South East than anywhere else - with more than 50 cases reported over the last year.
Yorkshire was also revealed to have the second worst reporting rate for absurd complaints, with 22 and Wales and the Scottish Highlands received the least number of elf and safety gripes.
Minister for Health and Safety Mike Penning said, "Health and Safety regulations save lives – but bogus excuses do nothing more than throw a spanner in the works of otherwise sensible activity. No doubt the figures will raise an interesting debate about whether they reveal the extent of over-zealousness or show that people have had enough and are no longer prepared to put up with nonsense excuses. Either way, it's good to see so many people on the side of restoring common sense."
Some of the best excuses in London included:
- cleaners at underground stations being banned from wearing woolly hats in winter;†
- a well-known department store which refused to serve fried eggs in a "full English breakfast" for fear of a pan fire; and†
- a British airline flying out of Heathrow who refused to serve boiled sweets to passengers suffering ear-ache.
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8 Million waste facility opens
Published: 18 Nov 2013
A new state-of-the-art food waste plant has opened in County Durham, serving the North East's need to recycle food waste and create renewable energy.
Emerald Biogas has announced the completion of its £8 million anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, which is the North East's first commercial food waste facility. It aims to generate enough energy to power 2,000 homes each year.
The plant was constructed by Entec Biogas GmBH using the latest technology, with the building programme progressing to schedule over the past year. The successful installation of the combined heat and power system and other plant equipment has enabled the testing phase to be completed on time and the plant is now processing food waste and creating energy.
Antony Warren, Director of Emerald Biogas said, "I am delighted with the progress made in terms of getting the plant to this stage. It is fantastic to see it up and running, as this truly is a one of a kind facility in the North East and the first in the region to begin operating. We are now in the position to accept and process unwanted commercial food waste and employ the latest AD technology to create a valued commodity that will be extremely beneficial to the local business and farming community".
He continued, "We are all excited for the positive journey ahead, with expansion a strong possibility, as we would like to see Emerald Biogas reach its full potential in the near future".
Agency forced to cut jobs
Published: 15 Nov 2013
The Environment Agency has confirmed it will make almost 15% of its staff redundant over the next 12 months, after its funding was cut by £33.5 million.
In his 2013 budget, the Chancellor announced that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) budget would be slashed by 9.6%, leaving them with £100 million less to spend next year. With funding on flood management and protection ringfenced, savings were required in other areas and the Treasury confirmed that it expects Defra's bodies, like the Agency, to save £54 million through "better joint working".
A spokesperson for the†Agency commented, "Our budget for 2014/15 will be confirmed shortly. However, we are likely to reduce staff numbers to around 9,700 by October 2014. We will then aim to keep numbers broadly at that level through to March 2015, dependent of course on future funding. We will only achieve this by looking across the whole organisation at our ways of working and structures".
The Agency's Chair, Lord Chris Smith and its Chief Executive wrote a separate communication to employees earlier in the month, which read, "We have to balance our continuing ambitions for people and the environment with the knowledge that we will have significantly reduced funding for many important areas of our work. We will need to look for efficiencies at all levels of the Environment Agency, as we seek to protect our environmental outcomes. We know that we are likely to be a smaller organisation in the future".
Along with considering whether work delivered at a regional level could be provided at a local or national level, the Agency is also weighing up the possibility of outsourcing its HR and finance functions to a private sector firm as part of a Cabinet Office initiative for public sector bodies to share service providers.
Ice hotel construction frozen by lack of fire alarm
Published: 15 Nov 2013
The world-famous Swedish Ice Hotel which melts every spring only to be rebuilt the following winter, was almost prevented from being constructed this year due to lack of a fire alarm system.
Planning permission for the frozen hotel, located 124 miles above the Arctic Circle, was going to be refused this time round unless fire alarms were installed on the premises, which are constructed completely of ice.
The owner, Beatrice Karlsson, was initially surprised as the entire hotel, including all furniture and appliances inside it, are built from ice from the nearby river. However a spokeswomen for the hotel said they understood how "there are things that can actually catch fire, like pillows, sleeping bags or reindeer skins".
"To us the most important concern is the safety of our clients, so we will comply," Beatrice Karlsson added.
But because the ice and snow is constantly shifting, putting in the alarms has proven to be a bit of a challenge.
"The environment is humid, and ice and snow move, so that had to be taken into account," Ms Karlsson said. "It’s been a challenge for our building team, but it made us one experience richer".
The hotel had a test period for the alarms with the local fire department last winter†and all seemed to go well. Only one incident has occurred since their implementation, and that was a guest having a cigarette in a cleaning closet, the spokeswoman said.
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ISO approve occupational health and safety work
Published: 14 Nov 2013
ISO has just approved the creation of a new project committee to develop an International Standard for occupational health and safety (OH&S).
The much-awaited standard will provide Governmental agencies, industry and other affected stakeholders with guidance for improving worker safety in countries around the world. The work will be overseen by ISO Project Committee (PC) 283, who deal with occupational health and safety management systems.
According to statistics, 6,300 people die every day as a result of occupational accidents or work-related diseases - more than 2.3 million deaths per year. 317 million accidents occur on the job annually; many of these resulting in extended absences from work. Many of these accidents can be prevented, and the future ISO standard will provide, for the first time, an international framework for OH&S best practice and, in so doing, reduce work-related accidents, injuries and diseases worldwide.
The secretariat of ISO/PC 283 has been assigned to BSI, with its first meeting held on 21-25 October 2013 in London. The ISO project committee will be tasked with transforming OHSAS 18001 (the OH&S management system requirements) into an ISO standard.