Three companies have been fined a total of £420,000 after a slate tile fractured the skull of a three-year-old child.
The slate came off a roof at a construction site at the Moonfleet Manor hotel in Weymouth, Dorset, and struck the young girl on 13 June 2019. She had been leaving the hotel with her father and older brother after attending a swimming lesson.
The pre-schooler received first aid and was later taken to hospital where she was put into an induced coma to stabilise her. She then underwent a two-hour operation to remove fragments of slate from her head.
The slate had come off the hotel roof and fell approximately five metres before striking the child. The roof was being renovated by Rocare Building Services Limited. The company had taken off the old tiles and began replacing them with new slates. The new slates had been stacked around the roof, leading to one piece falling off.
Rocare Building Services Limited had been appointed by Moonfleet Manor as the principal contractor to oversee the refurbishment work which also included replacing windows and restoring chimneys and gutters.
Quadra Built Environmental Consultancy Limited had been hired by Moonfleet Manor as the principal designer, in charge of planning, managing and monitoring the pre-construction phase. The company failed in the planning and design stage to properly assess the risks of objects falling from height and hitting people. There was insufficient consultation and collaboration between the various duty holders.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into this incident found scaffolding was not fit for purpose because it did not have sufficient measures to prevent items falling such as protective fans, covered walkways or, at a minimum, brick guards around the entire perimeter. Such measures are cheap and readily available within the industry. Moonfleet Manor ignored requests and failed to put in measures to address an obvious hazard of falling objects coming into contact with members of the public using the busy thoroughfare to the swimming pool. Moonfleet Manor was more concerned about putting convenience of the guests and preventing the hotel from looking like a building site than the safety of their guests, the judge found.
At Bournemouth Crown Court on 24 October 2023:
- Rocare Building Services Limited, of Headlands Business Park, Salisbury Road, Ringwood, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and Regulation 10 (1) of Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,554.78.
- Quadra Built Environmental Consultancy Limited, of Kingsmead, Lechlade On Thames, Gloucestershire, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 11 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay £25,000 in costs.
- LFH (Moonfleet Manor) Limited, of Manfred Road, Putney, London, was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £143,482.04 in costs.
A waste and recycling company in London has been fined £260,000 after a worker sustained severe crush injuries during maintenance work.
Grzegorz Poreba, an employee of Cappagh Public Works Limited, sustained severe injuries after becoming trapped between a conveyor and a metal bridge, which formed part of a waste sorting machine, at Riverside Road, Wimbledon, London on 11 September 2020.
The 48-year-old had entered the machine to make repairs to the mesh of the hopper. The machine had not been isolated from all sources of energy before the repair work started and when it was inadvertently switched on, Grzegorz was thrown onto the conveyor, trapping him against a metal bridge.
Mr Poreba suffered multiple injuries, that required 23 screws and two plates inside his body, and has not been able to return to work since.
“The whole accident has turned my life upside down,” he said.
“I cannot walk or stand for longer than an hour and a half.
“It has been very hard. If I could turn back time, I could only wish that the accident had never happened. The doctors have been trying to regain my physical and mental health.
“The only success so far is that I am not in a wheelchair.”
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Cappagh Public Works Limited had failed to provide a suitable means to isolate the machinery from all sources of energy. The isolator switch had been broken and was therefore inoperative. The company also had no formal maintenance arrangements for the machinery.
Cappagh Public Works Limited, of Waterside Way, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. 1974
The company was fined £260,000 and was ordered to pay £4,358 costs at a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court on 20 October 2023.
A 16-year-old boy suffered serious injuries after becoming trapped under a tractor while on paid work experience.
Tom Cutler was gaining experience of vehicle repair work at Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited, Folds Farm, in the New Forest, ahead of hopefully starting a vehicle maintenance course at Sparsholt College.
On August 3, 2021, the teenager from the New Forest was driving a tractor down an incline when it came off the track and overturned. He was alone and the tractor did not have a seat belt fitted. Tom was thrown out of his seat and his upper leg was trapped under the roof of the tractor – fortunately he was found in time by passers-by who were able to call for assistance. Emergency services attended and he was taken to hospital for treatment.
Tom’s dad, David Cutler, said: “Tom was only 16 when this incident happened, and it’s changed his life forever.
“Had it not been for his own bravery and the amazing work by the emergency services we could have lost him.
“Tom acted quickly and used his belt as a tourniquet to stem bleeding; he punched out the cab window to check his leg and managed to break off a wing mirror to enable him to turn off the tractor and prevent a fire from fuel that was escaping.
“He spent a month in hospital and has undergone seven different operations but can’t do the things he used to do. He was a keen mountain biker and cricket player but that has all stopped.
“He doesn’t sleep properly and is more anxious; he had to put his education on hold for a year and we as a whole family have found it extremely tough.”
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited, had failed to adequately protect Tom through a failure of supervision, and by not providing adequate information, instruction, and training to him.
At Southampton Magistrates’ Court on 16 October, Earlcoate Construction & Plant Hire Limited of Folds Farm, Fordingbridge, New Forest pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974. The company was ordered to pay a fine of £50,000 and costs of £9,223.
Two companies have been fined £46,000 in total after a labourer from Runcorn fractured his skull.
The man had been working on a new build house when he fell through a stairwell on 3 March 2021. He was working for Total Brickwork (UK) Ltd at a construction site run by Challenger Building Services Ltd on Okell Street, Runcorn. The two companies had been working on the construction of four new semi-detached and five terraced houses at the site.
The 46-year-old, who was 43 at the time, was on the first floor in one of the new terraced properties after being instructed by the director of Total Brickwork to clear up debris and mortar that had been left behind by bricklayers.
He had climbed up the first floor using a ladder at the stairwell opening, which had been covered with temporary boards. The boards were slid apart to allow access to the first floor. Intending to sweep the debris down the stairwell opening, the man lifted up one of the temporary boards and stepped forward as he was going to lean it against a wall. However, he fell through the stairwell opening onto the ground floor below as there were no floorboards underneath the temporary boards.
He fractured his skull, sustained multiple broken ribs and needed a plate to be inserted into his collarbone.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the principal contractor Challenger Building Services Limited and Total Brickwork (UK) Ltd, the contractor in control of the work activity, had failed to plan, manage and monitor work at the site to ensure it could be carried out safely. Any worker accessing the first floor was at risk of injury due to a lack of appropriate measures for preventing falls from height.
Challenger Building Services Ltd, of Lee Lane, Horwich, Bolton, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulation 2015. The company was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £1,991.32 in costs at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on 23 October 2023.
Total Brickwork UK Ltd, of Weston Road, Runcorn, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulation 2015. The company was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £1,991.32 in costs at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on 23 October 2023.
A Northwich furniture company has been fined £16,000 after it repeatedly failed to protect its employees from exposure to wood dust.
Pineland Furniture Ltd, based on Witton Street in the Cheshire town, was inspected by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on two separate occasions over a two-year period – with both identifying identical breaches.
Nathan Cook, HSE senior enforcement lawyer, told Chester Magistrates Court, how a visit in December 2019 found significant breaches of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) – resulting in six improvement notices being served. These included requirements for the company to undertake statutory examinations of its wood dust extraction systems and to undertake face fit testing for those employees required to wear tight fitting face masks.
However, another visit to the same premises in November 2021 found identical breaches and again improvement notices were served.
This inspection came as part of HSE’s national campaign targeting woodworking businesses. The significant occupational health risks associated with wood dust and the continued failure to ensure control of exposure to wood dust resulted in HSE prosecuting the company.
Pineland Furniture Limited pleaded guilty to breaching regulations 7(1) and 9(2)(a) of COSHH. They were fined £16,000 and was ordered to pay £3008 costs at a hearing at Chester Magistrates Court on 11th October 2023.
A man from Essex has been given a suspended jail sentence after carrying out illegal gas work and breaching a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement notice.
On 18 April 2020, Joshua Pitman, 28, undertook gas work at a house in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, which included installing gas pipework. However, Mr Pitman’s installation at the house was found to not be up to current standards by a Gas Safe Registered engineer. Andrew Parsons, who lives in the property with his wife Patricia Parsons, says Mr Pitman’s illegal gas work caused him and his family a great deal of distress.
An investigation by HSE found that Joshua Pitman undertook illegal work while still serving a suspended jail sentence, having previously been convicted of the same offences.
In October 2019, Mr Pitman was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, after being prosecuted by HSE. This HSE prosecution was in relation to illegal gas work Mr Pitman carried out in Brentwood, Essex, in November 2016, where he installed a boiler in one property and relocated a boiler at another despite not being registered with Gas Safe Register. During this prosecution, Mr Pitman was also served with a Prohibition Notice by HSE which banned him from carrying out gas work while being unregistered. Mr Pitman breached this enforcement notice while working on Mr Parsons’ home in April 2020.
Mr Pitman has never completed the required Nationally Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) qualifications to demonstrate he is competent to carry out gas work nor been registered with Gas Safe Register.
Mr Parsons, 49, said: “[Joshua Pitman] did not have a Gas Safe certificate [and this] caused a lot of disruption for myself and my family via having to put all that work right – the involvement of Cadent, HSE and various other contributary factors that have come in to get that fixed and therefore cost a fair amount of money, but also more importantly, put my family in danger by somebody purporting to be Gas Safe Registered and in fact not being and doing the work without those qualifications.
“So the result today of him pleading guilty, hopefully that will encourage others who may be thinking of doing this sort of work, the sentences that he has got, the compensation he is going to have to pay, hopefully that will deter other people from doing similar work.”
Joshua Pitman, of Whitesmith Drive, Billericay, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, fined £22,500 and ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work at Chelmsford Crown Court on 10 October 2023. He was also ordered to pay costs of £40,000 and £5,810 in compensation to Mr Parsons.
A company has been fined £20,000 after an employee’s arm was drawn into machinery and seriously injured.
The worker, Piotr Zielinski, 58, from Nottinghamshire, was working for food processing company Belwood Foods Limited. His right arm was drawn into a machine and wrist crushed while cleaning poultry processing machinery at Belwood Food’s site at Lowmoor Business Park, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottingham, on 22 November 2019.
He had been removing debris that was trapped on the hinges of an open access panel door at the base of a hopper machine. The door had been opened to allow the debris to drain from the auger. While removing the debris however, the auger was still in operation and caught the worker’s right arm, drawing it into the machine up to the elbow. This led to skin and muscle being removed from Mr Zielinski’s right arm with his wrist also being crushed. His injuries required surgery.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the access panel door was able to be opened freely whilst the auger was in motion. There were no controls in place to prevent the panel from being opened while the auger was moving. It was not locked or interlocked, and there was no safe isolation procedure for this weekly cleaning task.
Belwood Foods Limited, of The Henley Building, Newtown Road, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £7,839.21 in costs at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2023.
A Lincolnshire-based sole trader has been fined after his employees were exposed to a hazardous substance.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Chris Buckley, trading as The Furniture Chest, after the workplace regulator inspected the firm’s site on Station Road, Heckington, Lincolnshire, on 7 April 2022.
HSE inspectors found a significant build-up of wood dust and that Local Exhaust Ventilation systems, provided to capture wood dust and protect employees, had not been thoroughly examined and tested.
A subsequent HSE investigation found Chris Buckley had failed to prevent or adequately control employees’ exposure to wood dust and had failed to ensure that Local Exhaust Ventilation systems had been thoroughly examined and tested. Improvement Notices had been served in relation to the control of wood dust at previous inspections.
Wood dust is a hazardous substance and exposure can lead to workers suffering from respiratory diseases such as asthma and sino-nasal cancer.
Chris Buckley of Heckington, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 7(1) and 9(2) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. He was fined £1,354 and ordered to pay costs of £3,578 at Boston Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2023.
A recycling company has been fined £40,000 after its failure to maintain the lifting equipment on a refuse vehicle caused the death of an employee.
Henry Chambers had been working for Bin Busy Recycling Limited at an aggregates site run by another company in Charlton, London, when the incident occurred on 5 July 2019. The 65-year-old, from Dartford, had been unloading glass bottles from the refuse vehicle at an unloading bay at the site before he became trapped between the vehicle’s tailgate and hopper. He sustained multiple crush injuries and died in hospital four days later.
Mr Chambers’ wife, Gail, said: “The Christmas before Henry died, we had just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. It was a 40-year marriage which shouldn’t have ended as abruptly as it did.
“Henry was 65 and he kept saying he wanted to retire but there was no set time. There were lots of things we wanted to do when he retired. His big dream was to hire a Winnebago and drive Route 66, but he would have been just as happy down in Cornwall. His big things were holidays and family.”
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident identified multiple faults with the refuse vehicle’s lifting equipment, with some parts excessively worn and even missing. The equipment had not been thoroughly examined by a competent person after Bin Busy purchased the vehicle in April 2017.
A thorough examination is a systematic and detailed examination of the equipment and its safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person. In the case of this vehicle’s lifting equipment, a thorough examination should have been carried out every 12 months. Although Bin Busy had arrangements in place for the vehicle to be maintained, these were focused on its roadworthiness and did not include inspection and maintenance of its lifting equipment.
Bin Busy Recycling Limited, of Standard Wharf, Manor Road, Erith, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 9(3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £22,338.24 in costs and the victim surcharge of £181 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 9 October 2023.
A West Midlands self-employed plumber has been jailed after carrying out further illegal and unsafe gas work.
During 2020 and 2021, Daniel Kelly Mountain, installed and worked on gas boilers and performed gas work when he was not registered as an individual with the Gas Safe Register. He also falsely advertised himself as being Gas Safe Registered. By law all gas businesses and individuals who perform gas work must be on the Gas Safe Register.
Official Gas Safe Register inspectors who checked on the work carried out by Mr Mountain found it to be unsafe, left in a condition of being ‘immediately dangerous’ or ‘at risk’. This placed the occupiers at risk to their safety.
A previous investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2016 resulted in Mr Mountain being warned not to carry out any gas work until he was registered with Gas Safe Register. He was issued with a Prohibition Notice preventing him from carrying out further gas work until he was competent to do so and had become registered with the Gas Safe Register. However, Mr Mountain breached the Prohibition Notice and performed unsafe and unlawful gas work at a number of domestic properties across the West Midlands.
At Wolverhampton Crown Court on 6 October, Mr Mountain formerly of Wellington Court, Bilston, Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to one breach of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 Regulation 3(7), two breaches of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and one breach of section 22 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He received a 12-month custodial sentence.
The director of a dog food company has been given a suspended prison sentence after a teenage boy severed and lost his finger on his first day working at the firm. Company director Gary Pitchford was given a six-month custodial sentence, which was suspended for a period of 12 months.
The new starter, who was 16 at the time, had been hired by Finer By Nature after leaving school and began working there on 15 July 2020.
Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard that the middle finger on the teen’s right hand was sliced off while assisting another worker operating a food processing machine, used to package dog food, at the company’s site at Whitestone Business Park in Hereford.
Despite there being an interlock guard on the machine, the young worker, who is now 19, was instructed to stand on a step ladder and put his hands into the hopper bowl to scrape meat into the base where there were dangerous moving parts of the machine. This led to his middle finger being severed by the machine. He had two operations to close off the wound following the incident and stayed in hospital for six days in total.
The male said in a statement: “The emotional effect on me has been huge. At 16-years-old I felt so self-conscious, and this stopped me socialising, especially around strangers as they would always ask about my stump. I became very snappy with people including my own family because the trauma of what had happened upset me so much, it affected my mood and behaviour.
“I was experiencing flashbacks and phantom pains in my finger at night-time. Any sound that went snap caused a major flashback because I remember hearing the bone in my finger snap in the machine. I have never returned to the place where this happened, I actually don’t even go down the road where the factory is, the thought of it all still makes me feel sick and faint.”
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Finer By Nature had failed to make suitable and sufficient assessments of the risks involved with this type of work and that Gary Pitchford, the director at Finer By Nature, had neglected to manage the safety of employees using the food processing machine.
Finer By Nature, of Whitestone Business Park, Whitestone, Hereford, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) and 3(4) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Regulation 11(1) Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £4,564.15 in costs at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on 5 October 2023.
Gary Pitchford, of Whitestone Business Park, Whitestone, Hereford, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to a six-month custodial sentence for each of the three offences to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months and 180 hours of unpaid work.
A bird farm in Leeds has been fined £26,680 after a fire in a rearing shed resulted in serious injuries to one of its employees.
The incident happened at Yorkshire Game Farm, in Woodlesford, on 6th May 2020. The employee suffered second and third degree burns, and was kept in an induced coma at Pinderfields Hospital for five days, and not released from hospital until 12 days later.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that the employee had been installing gas heaters in a pheasant rearing shed, ready for a new crop of birds. Upon turning on the gas supply and lighting the heaters, the shed burst into flames, causing him significant burns and totally destroying the shed.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that when the employee came to commission the heaters, it was highly likely that a leak of gas ignited, setting fire to the shed and the bedding put down for the birds.
The reason for the gas leak was not identified as all the gas piping within the building was destroyed, but gas equipment outside the building was cracked and perished, indicating that it had not been maintained.
Yorkshire Game Farm of Woodlesford, Leeds, West Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £26,680.00 and ordered to pay £6495.20 in costs.
Three companies have been fined a total of £600,000 after an engineer was fatally electrocuted while repairing an appliance in a hospital kitchen.
Craig Stocker, working for Serviceline (part of AFE Group), died on 13 December 2017 while fixing a macerator (food waste disposal unit) at Bishops Wood Hospital, operated by BMI Healthcare (now known as Circle Health Group Limited) in Northwood, Middlesex.
The 36-year-old, who was originally from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, but lived in Letchworth, came into contact with a metal section of the macerator that had been electrified as water had entered the machine’s wiring. The macerator was not protected by an earth wire and there was no residual current device (RCD) to prevent fatal exposure to the electrical current.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into this incident found that Imperial Machine Company’s design of the macerator had serious flaws. The earthing wire could be connected in a way that meant it was ineffective, and the equipment was also permanently live.
When the macerator was installed by McFarlane Telfer in 2013, they had not acted on the manufacturer’s instructions, which required that a residual current device (RCD) was fitted. BMI Healthcare did not identify that the RCD had not been fitted and the machine was operated for several years before the incident occurred.
Craig’s wife Leah said: “Craig and I would enjoy dinners out, trips to the cinema, day trips to the seaside and we loved to go on holidays, with Tenerife being a particular favourite. Craig was a family man, both with his own family and my family and not forgetting his lads holidays with Martin, Owen and many other of his friends. Craig would also enjoy spending time with his childhood friend Mark who he spent a lot of time with sharing his interests with Mark, particularly American football (NFL) and WWE shows.
“He was a kind-hearted man who was a hardworking, caring individual. Craig had a passion for American football, WWE wrestling and listening to music from morning until night and many other hobbies. He was the life and soul of any party.
“On the day that Craig died, our lives changed in many ways, nothing can prepare you for this, nothing can prepare you for the psychological and emotional turmoil this causes to one’s mental health, Craig is missed by many people, myself and his mum Dianne in particular. Craig you are missed, you will always be missed but forever in our thoughts and hearts you will remain.”
Following a trial at Southwark Crown Court:
- BMI Healthcare (now Circle Health Group Limited), of Cannon Street, London, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. 1974. The company was fined £450,000 and ordered to pay £106,895 in costs on 3 October 2023.
- McFarlane Telfer Limited, of Westacott Way, Littlewick Green, Maidenhead, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. 1974. The company was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £106,753 in costs on 3 October 2023.
AFE Group Limited (trading as Serviceline) were found not guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. On 2 March 2022, Imperial Machine Company Limited, of Whisby Road, Lincoln, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £12,945 in costs at Southwark Crown Court on 3 October 2023.
A dockside warehousing company has been fined £127,500 after a worker fell 25ft through an open hatch on a trawler which had no edge protection.
David Eggins, a father-of-two, was working aboard a fishing vessel docked at the quayside at Cattedown Road, Plymouth on 16 December 2019. While acting as a banksman for a crane lifting pallets of frozen fish from the vessel’s hold, Mr Eggins was knocked through an unguarded hatch by an unsecured wheeled bin, as the vessel moved on the water. He fell between 25/30ft onto the floor below suffering multiple fractures to his head, neck, back, pelvis and ribs. He also sustained internal bleeding and spent over three months in hospital.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Cattedown Wharves Limited had failed to take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of workers during the operation. They were in charge of the unloading operation and should have taken adequate measures to ensure the safety of their employees.
Cattedown Wharves Limited, of Fisher House, Barrow-in-Furness, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. The company was fined £127,500 and was ordered to pay £13,767 costs at a hearing at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on 29 September 2023.
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