Serco has been fined £240,000 after a man was killed when the lorry he was a passenger in crashed into litter picking vans blocking a lane of a dual carriageway in Norfolk.
Tony Skerratt, 44, from Enfield, was in the passenger seat of a Wren Kitchens lorry when it hit the vans, which were obstructing the inside lane of the A11 near Attleborough, between Norwich and Thetford. The incident happened at around 12.45pm on February 26, 2019. The vans had been moving along the road slowly, stopping from time to time to allow bags of rubbish to be collected. The litter picking was being carried out by Serco employees. Serco had been contracted by Breckland District Council to carry out the work.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Serco Limited failed in its health and safety management of litter picking activities on high-speed dual carriageways. It had not provided its employees with appropriate work instructions to ensure the litter picking activity was safe. It also failed to supervise and monitor the high-risk activity to ensure it was carried out safely.
In a statement, Mr Skerratt’s family said the pain of their loss was as tender now as it was on the day of the incident.
They said: “The pain the family feels is as tender as the day we heard the worst possible news imaginable.
“The court case has been ongoing for so long, the wounds are unable to heal until justice is served. Tony was the youngest of four children and the only son to mum and dad. They grieve for the loss of their son – the pain of losing a child is something you can never recover from.
“It wasn’t Tony’s time to go, otherwise we would of had the chance to say goodbye.”
Serco Limited, with head offices based at Bartley Wood Business Park, Hampshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £240,000 and ordered to pay costs of 37,074 at Norwich Crown Court on 23 June 2023.
A private health care provider has been fined after three workers received treatment following exposure to chlorine gas.
Anthony Coombes, an engineer from Sandhurst, Berkshire, was working at The Hampshire Clinic on Basing Road in Basingstoke when he was exposed to the potentially deadly gas on 11 March 2021. He had been hired by Circle Health Group, the firm that runs The Hampshire Clinic, and asked to reduce the PH levels in the clinic’s hydrotherapy pool. However, there were no trained employees for the safe operation of pool plant at the clinic’s physiotherapy suite and Mr Coombes had not been fully trained in chlorine dosing operations or chemical storage. He added sodium hydrogen sulphate, also known as sodium bisulphate, to the pool’s sodium hypochlorite tank which caused a reaction and resulted in the release of chlorine gas.
Mr Coombes, who is now 59, was exposed to the gas and taken to hospital where he was given oxygen. Two other workers at The Hampshire Clinic were affected by the gas exposure and treated by doctors at the site. Chlorine gas exposure can be fatal in minutes. Analysis by HSE’s Science Division indicated that the maximum volume of chlorine gas produced was nearly 8000 times over the workplace exposure limit (WEL) and nearly 400 times over the Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDHL) Limit.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Circle Health Group fell far short in ensuring the health, safety and welfare of both its employees and contractors. Industry guidance for managing pool water treatment is well-known and been established for a significant period of time. Circle Health Group failed to put in place recognised industry standards of suitable risk assessments, adequate training as well as instructions and safe systems of work for the handling and mixing of chemicals.
Circle Health Group Limited, of Cannon Street, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £12,520.03 in costs at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on 20 June 2023.
A leading manufacturer of aircraft seats has been fined £660,000 after one of its employees suffered horrific injuries when he fell through a roof at a site in South Wales. Safran Seats GB Limited was carrying out work to vacate its premises in Llantarnam Industrial Park in Cwmbran when the incident happened on 19 May 2020.
Kevin Lewis, who was 62 at the time, suffered multiple broken bones, including eight to his ribs, his collar bone, as well as a fractured skull. He had been dismantling and removing a spraying booth when he fell more than seven feet through its roof. Mr Lewis was knocked unconscious as he hit the concrete floor and suffered a bleed on the brain.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found inadequate planning of the work at height meant suitable equipment wasn’t used and insufficient instruction and training had been given to those carrying out the work.
In the five-year period between 2017 and 2022, 174 workers in Great Britain – a quarter of those killed in accidents at work – tragically fell to their death.
Safran Seats GB Limited pleaded guilty at Cwmbran Magistrates Court on June 14 2023 to breaching section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and fined £660,000. They must also pay costs of £13,472.
A manufacturing company has been fined after a dad was drawn into a machine and broke his arm in two places. Paul Pearce, a father-of-two from Lymington in Hampshire, was unable to work for over a year following the incident on 12 March 2021. He had been working a night shift for HS Butyl Limited, a manufacturer of adhesive tapes, at the company’s site at Gordleton Industrial Park in Lymington when he noticed a build-up of butyl on the conveyor belt of the firm’s hot feed extruder machine.
Mr Pearce, who was 43 at the time, then reached into the conveyor to find out how much of the material was blocking the machine. While doing this however, Mr Pearce’s left arm became trapped and entangled between the machine’s conveyor belt and pulley.This led to the ulna and radius bones in his left arm breaking with Mr Pearce later requiring surgery to fit metal plates in the arm. However, these plates broke after being fitted and led to Mr Pearce undergoing two more operations. He was unable to work for over a year.
In a victim impact statement presented to the court, Mr Pearce, who is now 45, said: “It was the combination of the incident itself and all of the time off as a result of the incident which depressed me. It was depressing not being able to do all of the things I would normally do. As a result of the time off…I lost [my partner] and had to move out from my home.”
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that HS Butyl Limited had failed to provide guarding to stop its workers from being exposed to dangerous areas on moving machinery.
HS Butyl Limited, of Gordleton Industrial Park, Hannah Way, Lymington, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £4,945.90 in costs at West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court on 23 June 2023.
A transport company has been fined £255,000 after a worker fell from a lorry and fractured his skull. The man, who was working as a delivery driver for B Taylor & Sons Transport Limited, had been delivering glass to a customer when the incident occurred in Hinckley, Leicestershire on 4 December 2020.
As no forklift truck was available, the man was passing panes of glass from a stillage in the lorry to another worker on the ground. The man then fell from the lorry, fracturing his skull, left hand, nose and right eye socket. He also sustained two bleeds on the brain, a 12 centimetre gash on his forehead and dislocated his right elbow.
He spent five days in hospital following the incident and has to make significant adjustments to his day to day life. He struggles carrying out normal activities, including lifting moderate to heavy loads and carrying out DIY tasks in his home. He also experiences pain on a daily basis as a result of his injuries and feels a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that B Taylor & Sons Transport Limited had failed to put in place appropriate control measures for unloading activities. Risks had not been considered and the work was being carried out unsafely.
B Taylor & Sons Transport Limited, of Export Drive, Huthwaite, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £255,000 and ordered to pay £3,687 in costs at Leicester Magistrates’ Court on 20 June 2023.
A vape liquid manufacturing company in Manchester has been fined after a worker lost two fingers and a thumb while clearing a blockage in a packaging machine. The agency worker at VN Labs Ltd was operating a nicotine liquid pod packaging machine at the firm’s premises on Beacon Road, Trafford Park, when it became blocked on 22 October 2020. While removing the plastic that was causing the blockage, the machine’s blade was freed and sliced the worker’s right hand. This led to the amputation of two of the worker’s fingers (index and middle) and thumb on his right hand after it became apparent they could not be reattached.
The 43-year-old man, who lives in Manchester, has been unable to work since the incident, now struggles carrying out everyday tasks and has suffered from mental health difficulties as a result of his injuries.
He said in his victim personal statement: “The accident has had an impact on my daily activities because from day one until now I did not have a day without pain. My mind has completely changed. I can’t do simple tasks such as prepare eggs for my children. I used to enjoy hobbies like judo, jujitsu and climbing.
“My mental health has suffered because of the accident and is not regular like it was before, there is a lot of instability. I have good days and bad days. My financial situation has deteriorated and I feel like I have no control over anything. I can’t work and I have to delay all my bills including my rent. It was never like this before.”
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the machine had recently been imported without any guarding. The engineering team at VN Labs assessed the machine and installed a see-through plastic guard over the top. Despite this, access to dangerous parts of the machine was still possible. There was also no formal written risk assessment for the blister pack machines. The company also failed to implement a safe system for clearing blockages and did not effectively supervise and monitor its working processes.
VN Labs Limited, of Beacon Road, Trafford Park, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaches of Section 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay £7,490.05 in costs at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 16 June 2023.
Chelmsford City Council has been fined £80,000 for waste collection safety failures, after a father-of-three died when he was struck by a bin lorry. Steve Bishop, 37, passed away after being hit by the rear and underside of a bin lorry that was reversing down Osea Way, Chelmsford, on 8 December 2017. Steve, who lived in Chelmsford, was working as a loader operative for Chelmsford City Council at the time of the incident. Nickie Bishop, Steve’s partner, says her family will never get over his passing.
It is accepted the Council’s failings did not lead to the death of Mr Bishop. The incident did however, prompt a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation. The workplace regulator found that Chelmsford City Council failed to effectively manage the risks presented by moving refuse vehicles, provide training and instruction for agency workers on safe procedures for reversing and the use of hand signals. The local authority also failed to effectively monitor its employees working practices.
Nickie Bishop said: “I would like to reiterate the pain this has caused me and my boys. My boys’ dad will never be brought back from this tragic incident. Me and my sons shall never get over this.
“I hope more than anything that no other family ever has to go through this heartbreak, to have a knock on the door to say their partner who is hard at work and been run over.
“For me now, as my 11-year-old and nine-year-old bring up fond memories of their dad and family moments, I am having the difficult subject of my youngest son, who is five, asking about his dad, and why he is in the sky.”
Chelmsford City Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The local authority was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £61,065 in costs at Chelmsford Crown Court on 16 June 2023.
A Wiltshire landowner has been fined £15,000 after members of the public were seriously injured by cattle while walking along footpaths on his estate.
Sir Charles Hobhouse pleaded guilty to health and safety failings at his Monkton Farleigh Estate in Bradford-on-Avon. It follows two separate incidents in summer 2021 in which people using public footpaths on his land were attacked by cows.
Retired military officer Michael Booley was walking his dogs with his wife Joanne and their friend Josian Gauld on 5 June 2021. They found the public right of way blocked by an electric fence and no alternative route provided. After carefully negotiating a fence to continue along the path, the trio were approached and attacked by several cows. Mrs Booley suffered serious injuries including a fractured shoulder and broken ribs. Mr Booley, 57, said the attack was ‘horrendous’ and that he felt ‘powerless’ to protect the pair from the aggressive herd.
“Experiencing battle as a solider is different to being attacked out in the countryside when on a leisure walk on a public right of way,” he said.
“I witnessed my wife being relentlessly stamped on and head butted by the cows and at one stage she was not responding.
“I also witnessed my friend desperately trying to find cover behind a tree and fighting the attacking cows with her rucksack as they attacked her from both sides.
“I still have nightmares about it.”
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Sir Charles Hobhouse had failed to ensure the risks to members of the public were controlled, including where possible, that cattle with calves were suitably segregated from the public footpath.
Despite being formally instructed to implement controls to prevent a similar incident, a second attack occurred weeks later on 19 August 2021. Local builder James Johnson was out for an early morning run with his dog along the footpath when he was attacked by cattle shortly after 6am.
“I remember the incident clearly,” the 42-year-old said.
“There were two groups of cows, one of which was running fast towards me and the other coming from a different direction.
“When I realised what was happening I let the dog go and started to run.
“The cattle ran into me and knocked me onto the ground, where I was trampled, pushed and head butted.
“Every time I attempted to get back up, they pushed me back down.
“Near the end, when I was exhausted and hurt, I fell to the ground one more time and remember thinking ‘this is it – this is where I die’.”
Mr Johnson sustained significant injuries including concussion, dislocated shoulders, broken ribs, and broken vertebrae. He was in hospital for several days. On this occasion there had been no measures to segregate the cows from the footpath.
Sir Charles Hobhouse pleaded guilty at Taunton Crown Court to breaching two counts of section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 3 May 2023. At a sentencing hearing at Bristol Crown Court on 8 June 2023 he was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,000.
A plastics manufacturing company in West Bromwich has been fined after it put workers and the public at risk of being infected with potentially deadly bacteria.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated Riaar Plastics Limited after members of the public became infected with Legionnaires’ disease in September 2020. Five people were infected with the potentially deadly lung infection. One person was taken to intensive care and put on a ventilator after being infected.
Riaar Plastics Limited was fined for failing to manage the risk of Legionella. HSE found the water-cooling towers inherited by Riaar Plastics Limited at its site on Black Lake, West Bromwich, were in an extremely poor condition. This allowed Legionella bacteria to grow in the water-cooling towers and pipes, exposing employees and members of the public to risks of significant ill health. People can get Legionnaires’ disease when they breathe in small droplets of water in air that contains the Legionella bacteria.
Riaar Plastics Limited, of Black Lake, West Bromwich, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £11,000 in costs at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 2 June 2023.
A glass distribution and installation company has been fined £200,000 after an employee broke two ribs and fractured his vertebra after being crushed by a crate. The man, 29, was working for PSV Glass and Glazing Limited at the firm’s warehouse at Stakehill Industrial Estate in Middleton.
He had been moving a crate of replacement glass, weighing approximately 700kg, with the help of another colleague on 16 June 2021. The pair placed the crate on the top of a set of skates and intended to push the load across the warehouse. While doing this however, the crate became unbalanced and fell, trapping the worker underneath. He suffered two broken ribs, a punctured lung and a fractured vertebra. Six screws and a plate were inserted to fix the vertebra.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found PSV Glass and Glazing Limited’s system of work used to move crates in the warehouse was hazardous. When a crate was balanced on the skates it became unstable, increasing the risk of the load tipping. In addition to an inadequate system of work to move the crates, the company also had no suitable risk assessment despite a previous similar incident. Had the warehouse been less congested, a more suitable method of moving the crates could have been used, such as a proprietary pallet handling truck.
PSV Glass & Glazing Limited, of Hillbottom Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £4,897.05 in costs at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 26 May 2023.
A Hampshire-based hygiene consultancy firm has been fined £2,000 after its failures put workers at risk of exposure to hazardous substances.
Envirochem Analytical Laboratories Limited provided an occupational hygiene consultancy service to customers across the South of England. The reports provided by Envirochem are used by their customers to make decisions regarding necessary controls to protect their workforce from risks to their health from substances including hazardous chemicals and dusts. However, they provided one customer with a deficient occupational hygiene exposure monitoring report.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the report to be inadequate and did not provide the information necessary regarding the extent of exposure to hazardous substances, including isocyanates from paint spraying, a potent respiratory sensitiser. The report used inappropriate occupational hygiene monitoring and analysis methods and consequently under-reported the actual exposures at the customers premises.
Portsmouth Magistrates Court heard the services the company provided included the provision of reports, following testing carried out by their consultants at customer premises.
Envirochem Analytical Laboratories Limited, of The Gardens, Broadcut, Fareham, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £6,583 in costs at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on 23 May 2023.
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