Dangers of makeshift lifting platforms highlighted
Published: 25 Jun 2012
A manufacturing firm and its director have been fined after two teenage workers fell from a poorly designed lifting platform.
On 6 April 2009, Leon Payne and another agency worker who wishes to remain anonymous, were helping to scrap shopping trolleys at Storetec Ltd's depot at the Sawpit Lane Industrial Estate, Derbyshire. The teenagers were placing trolleys in a skip using a metal plate as a makeshift lifting platform, which Storetec director Brian Crossan had designed to be manoeuvred by a forklift truck. As the forklift was lowering the platform, it got caught on either the lip of the skip, or a protruding trolley, and the platform was dragged off the truck's forks. The workers fell four and a half metres to the ground.
Mr Payne suffered fractures to his back, while his colleague broke both his heels and needed pins and a metal plate inserted in his feet.
The Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) investigation found that the company had neglected to assess the dangers of working at height in relation to the task. It issued a prohibition notice to the company to stop it using an identical plate as a lifting platform, and also served improvement notices in relation to two other lifting platforms at the depot. Inspector Fiona Coffey said, "The company should have considered if it was necessary to use a platform like this in the first place, and if it was, used something that was legal and safe - this arrangement clearly was not. Mr Crossan put two teenagers in a dangerous position, without thought for the consequences."
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Justice prevails for sickly workers
Published: 22 Jun 2012
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has expanded on its insistence that all workers throughout the EU have a right to reclaim holiday time affected by illness.
The ruling, made after an appeal by a Spanish trade union, is binding on all EU members, including the UK. The court in Luxembourg said the EU Working Time Directive (Directive 2003/88/EC) grants workers a right to at least four weeks' paid annual leave "even where such leave coincides with periods of sick leave".
"The purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure," the court said. "The purpose of entitlement to sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work."
The judgment goes further than the court's earlier rulings on sick leave. Previously, the court had said that people who were sick before their holiday started could take their leave at another time.
An EU source said that the ECJ ruling has full, immediate effect EU-wide, regardless of the type or size of employer. Workers who believe their employer has infringed their right to paid annual leave can seek justice in their national courts.
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Clegg announces GHG reporting plans
Published: 21 Jun 2012
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has confirmed that all businesses listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) will have to report on the greenhouse gases they emit under new plans.
From the start of the next financial year, firms will have to include this information in their annual reports. There are currently more than 2,500 firms listed on the LSE, including giants such as Vodaphone, Shell and M&S. However, there is no minimum size to join it; typically smaller firms listed will be valued in the low millions. The UK will be the first country in the world to make it compulsory for companies to include emissions data for their entire organisation.
Announcing the news at the UN's Rio+20 sustainability talks in Rio de Janeiro, the Lib Dem leader said, "British companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet but many back our plans because being energy efficient makes good business sense too. It saves companies money on energy bills, improves their reputation with customers and helps them manage their long-term costs."
It has been estimated that mandatory reporting could save four million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions by 2021.
For more information see:
- http://cedr.ec/9z, our news story on Rio+20.
Rio+20 summit begins
Published: 21 Jun 2012
The Rio+20 summit on sustainable development has begun with a warning from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This summit marks 20 years since the famous Earth Summit took place in Rio, which led to important UN conventions on climate change, biodiversity and desertification.
However, 20 years on, Ban Ki-moon claims that progress has been too slow and that words must translate into action.
After negotiations to decide how to implement sustainable development, 191 countries reached an agreement on the conference's outcome document. This was something else that seemed to come as a disappointment to Ban Ki-moon. He said of the document, "I know some Member States hoped to have a bolder and more ambitious outcome document. I also hoped that we should have a more ambitious outcome document."
Perhaps the most challenging statement was made by 17-year-old Brittany Trilford, who won a competition to send a message to the summit on behalf of the World's youth. She said to the World leaders gathered at the summit, "You have 72 hours to decide the fate of your children - my children - my childrens' children - and I start the clock now. Are you here to save face - or are you here to save us?"
However, it still remains to be seen if words uttered at the summit will indeed turn into actions, or if the World leaders will take stock of Miss Trilfords challenge.
Aside from the summit, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg used the Rio+20 platform to announce that from next year, UK businesses will have to report their greenhouse gas emissions annually. Mr Clegg said, "Counting your business costs while hiding your greenhouse gas emissions is a false economy. British companies need to reduce their harmful emissions for the benefit of the planet, but many back our plans because being energy efficient makes good business sense too."
For more information see:
- http://cedr.ec/a1, our news story on reporting greenhouse gas emissions.
National Recycle Week
Published: 18 Jun 2012
This week is National Recycle Week, and councils, retailers and businesses from across the UK will be highlighting the plight of the plastic bottle.
Since its introduction around 65 years ago, a breathtaking 15 million plastic bottles are used every day in the UK, but less than 50% make it to the recycling bin. Technology now allows for all shapes and sizes of plastic bottles to be recycled. All you have to do is "wash 'em and squash 'em." It doesn't just apply to plastic bottles in the kitchen either, remember to check out the bathroom, the garage and garden shed too!
By simply recycling all of our plastic bottles, whether at home, at work or while out and about, we can all do our bit to improve collection rates.
If you would like to get involved, find out what's happening near you or use the range of Recycle Week resources to set up your own activity, click here for more details: http://cedr.ec/9s.
Compensation for scaffold victim
Published: 15 Jun 2012
Richard Chodkiewicz has been given a seven figure sum in compensation after he was left brain damaged following an accident on a site. Mr. Chodkiewicz was working at the Bristol Radisson Blu Hotel when a 3.7kg scaffold pole, which was attached to piano wire and being used as a plumb line, fell down a lift shaft and hit him.
Bristol Crown Court heard that as the wire was being wound up, the pole detached and fell 14 storeys, striking Mr. Chodkiewicz at the bottom of the shaft where he was working.
Mr. Chodkiewicz's wife Karen said, "His short term memory is very poor, his long term memory has also been affected and at times he has difficulty remembering the names of his own children which is heartbreaking."
She added, "Although no amount of money will ever turn back the clock the settlement will provide Richard with a care package that provide the support that is so vital as well as much-needed financial security for his family."
As well as the substantial compensation payout, Millar Construction which was running the project was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £17,232 in costs. Hoistway Ltd, which employed Mr. Chodkiewicz, was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £14,616 in court costs.
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