Spell of trouble for Legoland
Published: 11 Feb 2013
As a consequence of an accident in 2011 which involved a worker falling more than three metres from a ride he was fixing, Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd, operators of Legoland in Berkshire, have been fined £23,200 and ordered to pay £12,115 in costs.
Reading Magistrates court heard how the 42 year old worker was removing damaged parts from the Dragon Coaster ride when he stepped on to a section of the walkway that had been removed and replaced, but not secured in position, causing the man to fall and break his shoulder and several ribs. He was off work for two months, but has since returned.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that despite the serious injury the man suffered, the work continued in the same way the following day in order to complete the task. A risk assessment by the company stated that harnesses and lanyards should have been used. However, because there were so many workers, the lanyards kept getting tangled up, so the operatives decided against using them.
Immediately following the incident, a new risk assessment was undertaken, which reiterated the instruction for workers to wear their fall-protection equipment, but, again, the team decided not to do so.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Karen Morris said, "This incident and the injury to the worker were avoidable and show the importance of using safe systems of work when carrying out tasks at height.
It is quite unacceptable that the day after someone was injured in this way, more work is carried out to complete the task, and allowed to continue in the same way with inadequate fall protection or fall prevention measures in place.
The dangers of falls from height are well known, and Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd was placing employees at unnecessary risk."
Inspector Morris added, "Although this decision was made hands-on by the supervisor and the operatives, the senior management team visited the site at least twice on the first day and, again, on the second day. So, there was tacit approval by senior management, who watched them working but didn’t challenge them."
Sentencing Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd, the magistrates identified the failure to learn lessons immediately as an aggravating feature. This was reflected in the penalty, which comprised a £10,000 fine for the initial incident, relating to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations SI 2005/735, plus £13,200 for the same breach of the Regulations, relating to the work carried out on 2 June 2011, even though no incident occurred on that day.
New standard rules published
Published: 08 Feb 2013
In addition to the standard rules already established by the Environment Agency, new rules have been published which operators must comply with in order to operate a waste installation under a standard permit.
These new standard rules can be applied for from the date the legislation comes into force which implements Directive 2010/75/EU, on industrial emissions, and will be general binding rules for installations that are produced in accordance with that Directive. However, that legislation is currently only in draft form.
The new standard rules cover the following areas:
- composting in closed systems;
- composting in open systems;
- on-farm anaerobic digestion facility using farm wastes only, including use of the resultant biogas;
- anaerobic digestion facility including use of the resultant biogas;
- treatment of Incinerator Bottom Ash (IBA).
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Charge "not my bag"
Published: 08 Feb 2013
The 5p charge on single-use bags has been implemented in Wales and Northern Ireland in order to encourage shoppers to re-use bags to reduce the strain on the environment. Scotland is also considering bringing in the charge, but it appears that England may be hesitant on introducing it.
Previously, Ministers had said that they were impressed by the Welsh scheme which has apparently cut the use of plastic bags by 95% since the charge was introduced in 2011 but Conservative MP Richard Benyon said, "We recognise the pressures on household budgets at this time; levying even a small charge may not be the best option."
However, Mr Benyon also said that they were monitoring the results of the scheme in Wales, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has not ruled out the charge. A Defra spokesperson said, "We want to work with retailers to help them lift their game to cut the number of bags they hand out. We are monitoring the results of the charging scheme in Wales and the outcome of the Scottish consultation on a charge."
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Scotland charges forward with cutting vehicle emissions
Published: 07 Feb 2013
The Scottish Government have announced plans to install charging points throughout the Scottish road network in an attempt to cut vehicle emissions.
The scheme will see charging points installed at least every 50 miles on trunk roads and 100% funding to be given to householders to install home charging points. There will also be charging points at leisure centres, council car parks and ferry terminals; locations which will be listed on the Scottish Government's new ChargePlace Scotland website.
A total of £2.6m is being invested in the scheme, with £750,000 coming from Transport Scotland, the Scottish Government's transport agency, and the remainder coming from the UK Government's Plugged in Places initiative. The Scottish Government hopes the scheme will contribute to their aim of "decarbonisation" of road transport by 2050.
Transport minister Keith Brown said, "Scotland has long been at the forefront of world-changing innovation, be it penicillin or television, and I want to ensure we are leading where the rest of the world will soon follow on electric vehicles."
However environmental campaigners have argued that there will have to be major improvements to public transport and increased investment in measures to encourage drivers to leave the car at home and walk or cycle instead.
Scottish Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson Tavish Scott said, "Until more drivers can afford green cars then charging points will only be used by middle class people whose second car is an electric model. The Scottish Government should consider making a real change by making the national concessionary bus scheme conditional on the buses running on green power."
HSE rebuffs H&S claims
Published: 05 Feb 2013
Health and Safety is often cited as the reason for stopping acceptable events simply because it is a convenient tag-line. However, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is fighting back, writing to the media which reports such stories and, in essence, putting the record straight.
In many of the cases where health and safety is cited as a barrier, there is no legal basis for the decision, and other factors are to blame before health and safety. In January, the HSE had to rebuff two such stories.
The first was a claim that council officials in Leicester told tower block tenants to remove doormats from outside their homes as they are a health and safety hazard. For instance, residents could trip on the mat if there was a fire. The HSE said that there were no health and safety regulations prohibiting the use of doormats, and although the council have explained their reasons for requesting the removal, it has nothing to do with the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
Secondly, the Northamptonshire Beer Festival was cancelled because of health and safety concerns. The Festival lacked willing volunteers and the organisers claimed that there was a risk that they would be left open to insurance claims. In response, the HSE said that there was nothing in health and safety law to prevent the event from going ahead, and the real issue was the lack of volunteers.
These responses come from the HSE's Myth Busters Challenge Panel, which wants to make it clear that health and safety is about managing real risks properly, not being risk aware and stopping people from getting on with their lives.
If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate to what you are doing, you can complain to the panel. It will investigate and publish its findings on the HSE website.
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Format for Fee for Intervention figures revealed
Published: 01 Feb 2013
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed that in the three months in which the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) Fee for Intervention (FFI) Scheme has been in force, 903 premises have been visited, with 373 of those being construction sites.
A more recent FoI request has also shown that as a result of visits between 1 October to 30 November 2012, 1,148 FFI invoices have been raised, with a total value of £727,644.
The HSE Board heard that a broad breakdown of the invoices show:
- 10% of invoices are for values greater than £1,000;
- 70% are for less than £500; and
- 30% are for less than £200.
Anyone receiving an FFI invoice will have 21 days from receipt in which to query it, should they believe they weren’t in material breach of the law or the time the fee is charged for is incorrect. If they remain unhappy after the HSE's response they will then have a further 21 days in which to lodge a dispute.
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