A group of schoolchildren had to be rescued by Keswick Mountain Rescue Team (KMRT) from Helvellyn after becoming stranded in winter conditions. Today, Thursday 17 February 2022, their school has been sentenced for its failure to adequately manage the risks posed by the trip.
Newcastle Magistrates’ Court heard that on 5 March 2020, the group of 13 Year 10 pupils from The Gateshead Cheder were on an organised trip to Helvellyn in the Lake District, led by one teacher and a teaching assistant. Weather conditions on the day were cold and icy. Despite reviewing the Lake District Weatherline Report, which stressed the dangers to those ascending above the snow line, the school decided the trip should still go ahead as planned. Their route included ascending from Wythburn via Birk Side, and descending Helvellyn via Browncove Crags.
Despite the winter conditions many of the school children did not have suitable equipment, a number of them were wearing school shoes and school trousers; and others were wearing trainers. In winter conditions it is essential that hikers wear full winter clothing, including mountain boots, and that those venturing above the snowline carry appropriate equipment including ice axes and crampons. The adults leading the trip had no formal qualifications in mountain leadership or any experience of mountain environments in winter conditions. The party had a map but relied on a smartphone app as a compass.
During their ascent, at least two members of the public warned the Gateshead Cheder party to turn back, but the group continued their ascent and managed to reach the summit of Helvellyn without incident. However, as the party made their descent, they inadvertently ventured off the path and unknowingly began traversing the west face of Helvellyn towards a section of steep terrain featuring vertical rock faces of around 20 metres in height.
While descending one of the pupils slid on the ice and fell several metres sustaining minor cuts. This caused another pupil to panic and run from the group down the mountain. The two adults remained with the injured pupil and the other school children. By this time, it had begun to get dark and the temperature was dropping.
The party were eventually located and rescued by KMRT, who cut steps into the snow to assist the party back to the path and down the mountain. The other pupil was lucky enough to make it back down the mountain and was found by members of the public.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that neither of the adults with the party had the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience to lead the trip, and that the school had not taken advice from a suitably competent person to plan or organise of the excursion. There was no effective system to check the suitability of the clothing and equipment the children had with them and no effective contingency plan in place if conditions became too difficult to proceed.
The Gateshead Cheder Limited of Bede House, Tynegate Precinct, Sunderland Road in Gateshead pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work (etc) act 1974. The school was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £181 and costs of £4,574.90.
Christopher Paul Sharpe, partner in J H Sharp and Son, has been sentenced for safety breaches after an 83-year-old man was fatally attacked by cattle. Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard how on 30 May 2020, David Tinniswood and his wife were attacked by cattle whilst following a public right of way across Ivescar Farm at Chapel-Le–Dale in Carnforth.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the couple were walking on a footpath that passed through the yard at Ivescar Farm, following a right of way that runs from the farm down to the road. They were accompanied by two border terriers. The couple were attacked by cattle that were grazing in the field with calves at foot. The 83-year-old man was trampled and pronounced dead at the scene and his wife sustained serious injuries.
Christopher Paul Sharpe of Ivescar Farm, Chapel le Dale, Carnforth, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He received a prison sentence of 12 weeks, suspended for 12 months, and was fined a total of £878 and was ordered to pay £7820.30 in costs.
Northern Gas Networks Ltd were sentenced today for safety breaches after a fire and gas explosion at residential premises in Mirfield resulted in the death of the homeowner.
Leeds Crown Court heard that, on 11 February 2019, West Yorkshire Fire service were called to a fire and explosion in Huddersfield Road, Mirfield, West Yorks. The occupier, Elena Frunza, was discovered during a search of the property, whilst it was still on fire. She was taken to Pinderfields General Hospital where she died the following morning.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the source of the gas escape was identified as being from a fractured six inch cast iron main running under the carriageway to the front of the property. The investigation found that the main did not appear on Northern Gas Networks drawings and had therefore not been maintained in accordance with the Pipelines Safety Regulations 1996.
Northern Gas Networks Ltd of Thorpe Business Park, Colton, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £5 million and ordered to pay costs of £91,487.
A recycling company has been fined after an employee was injured whilst clearing a blockage in a waste metal chute. Shrewsbury Crown Court heard how, on the 9 October 2017, an employee of PG Skips Limited was injured when he fell through a chute, approximately four metres above a concrete yard, whilst clearing a blockage. Another employee, who was waiting in a telescopic handler to collect the waste metal in the machine bucket, saw him fall and moved the machine to try and catch him. The employee was hit by the bucket and sustained injuries including several broken bones.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was no risk assessment or safe system of work in place for clearing blockages. The company had not considered the risk of employees falling through the chute from that height.
PG Skips Limited of The Lowe, Wem, Shropshire were found guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 and have been fined £17,500.
A company specialising in manufacturing canopies and ventilation ducting has been fined after an employee’s hand was drawn into the rotating parts of a machine, resulting in serious injury. Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how on 14 October 2019, an apprentice of R Briggs Sheetmetal Fabrication Ltd, was instructed by another apprentice and a trainee on how to operate a swaging machine. This consisted of two rotating wheels controlled by a foot pedal, used to put a groove around a ducting tube. After carrying this process out on approximately four pieces of tubing, the apprentice was left to proceed on their own, unsupervised. Whilst continuing the task a the fabric safety glove worn by the apprentice caught in the rotating wheels of the machine. On releasing the foot pedal, the wheels took a few seconds to stop, drawing the apprentice’s hand between them. The employee suffered from a crushed fingertip and a fracture. As a result of the incident the worker was unable to work for two months.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had not performed a risk assessment for using the machine or implemented any safe systems of work including recognising that the gloves presented a drawing-in and entanglement hazard on that machine. They did not provide staff with adequate training or assess the additional risks presented by a young, inexperienced person working with machinery and being unaware of existing or potential risks.
R.Briggs Sheetmetal Fabrication Ltd of Bond Street, Colne, Lancashire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,682.
A company specialising in interior and exterior stonework has been fined after an employee sustained serious injuries when he was struck by a forklift truck. Peterborough Magistrates’ Court heard how on 22 January 2019, an employee of Tudor Stonework Limited was injured whilst moving stone slabs during a lifting operation. The system of work required two operatives to walk in front of the forklift truck to steady a suspended load. However, during this operation the forklift truck ran over the foot of one of the operatives resulting in an open fracture to his left leg as well as crush injuries to his foot.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the system of work for transporting stone slabs was not safe, as it required the operatives to be in close proximity to the moving forklift truck.
Tudor Stonework Limited of Silver Street, Enfield, Middlesex pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £466 and ordered to pay costs of £5,570.
A roofing contractor has been sentenced after an unpaid casual labourer fell through a skylight during the renovation of an old asbestos cement roof, at an industrial building in Exeter. Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard that on 23 October 2018, the labourer, who wanted to gain industry experience having never previously worked on roofs, was instructed by Ian Davey (trading as Exe Fibreglass) to cut fibreglass for the roof of the building. Once the fibreglass was cut, the labourer went up onto the roof to observe the fitting by Mr Davey and another colleague. He stepped on a fragile skylight, which gave way causing him to fall five and a half metres to the floor below. He suffered multiple fractures to his hand and wrist, which required surgical wiring to repair, and also factures to his ribs.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been properly planned. There was a lack of training or experience in the supervision of others working at height. There were no preventative safety measures in place for the skylights such as netting, crawl boards or safety harnesses in use.
Ian Davey trading as Exe Fibreglass of Beacon Hill, Exmouth pleaded guilty to breaching Section 9(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He was given a 12 month community order, which includes 80 hours of unpaid work, and has been ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
A roofing company owner has been given a suspended sentence after a member of the public reported a concern regarding unsafe work at height. Liverpool Crown Court heard how, on 5 March 2021, company owner Phillip McGinn and two workers were replacing roof tiles on a detached dormer bungalow, in Lydiate on Merseyside, without any scaffolding or edge protection in place to prevent them from falling a distance liable to cause personal injury.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Phillip McGinn had failed to take suitable and sufficient measures to ensure that work at height was carried out safely. He had failed to provide sufficient work equipment to prevent a fall or to minimise the distance or consequences of a fall.
The court also heard that this was not the first time that HSE had encountered poor working practices from Phillip McGinn. The HSE took previous enforcement action and prosecuted Mr McGinn for a similar offence in 2012.
Phillip McGinn of Lydiate, Merseyside, was found guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. He received a thirteen-month suspended prison sentence, 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £1,000.
A self-employed contractor has been given a suspended sentence and community service after undertaking gas work on a property whilst not being gas safe registered. Crewe Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 1 June 2019, Robert Allen, a self-employed contractor trading as A&E Property Services, replaced a boiler at a property in Ledward Street in Winsford. Following the installation, a number of problems arose including loss of pressure and water leaks. In August 2019, a Gas Safe Registered engineer attended the property and discovered multiple issues with the installation including an inadequately sized pipe, which they felt posed immediate danger. The case was reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the form of a Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) report.
An investigation by HSE found that Mr Allen had never been Gas Safe Registered. It was discovered that he had provided himself with a false registration number and had also used the registration number of a completely unconnected company.
On the inspection of the work carried out at Ledward Street, five separate serious defects were found including an unsealed flue, a pressure relief valve incorrectly located, undersized gas pipework, uncommissioned appliance, and corrosion to the gas pipework. These defects could have led to carbon monoxide leakage, scalding, unsafe combustion, and unburned gas release, which could have proved fatal.
Robert Allen of Nixon Drive, Winsford, Cheshire pleaded guilty to two breaches of Regulation 3 (3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and breaches of Regulation 3 (7) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and Regulation 5 (3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was given a 40 week suspended sentence, 200 hours community service and ordered to pay costs of £5,263.
A plant hire company has been fined for leaving workers at risk of a fall from height and failing to provide minimum welfare facilities. Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 17 November 2020, Ruttle Plant (Birmingham) Ltd was in the process of building a new aggregate recycling facility at their site at Common Bank Lane, Chorley. Part of the work included the provision of cladding to the roof, which was carried out using a cherry picker. However, as some areas of the roof were difficult to reach, employees had to step onto the roof where no edge protection had been provided, putting them at risk of a 30ft fall. In addition, workers had been on site for some considerable time without the minimum required welfare facilities being available. This included facilities for hand washing during the height of the Covid pandemic.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the workers had been left unsupervised by site management, there had been no method statement to follow when they climbed onto the roof and there were no preventative measures in place to prevent the risk of a fall from height. Workers were also expected to drive to the company’s head office along an unadopted roadway more than five minutes’ drive away to use the toilet, despite there being ample room on the site for facilities.
Ruttle Plant Hire (Birmingham) Ltd of Lancaster House, Ackhurst Road, Chorley, Lancashire pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 13(4)(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, and Regulation 4(1) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £66,667 and ordered to pay costs of £1,847.
Kieran Lynch has been prosecuted after his employees were exposed to asbestos while refurbishing domestic premises in Barnsdale Road, Reading. Reading Magistrates’ Court heard how Mr Lynch, trading as Lynch and Co, was contracted to carry out a largescale refurbishment for his client who had recently purchased the property from their local council. Prior to the project commencing, the owner of the property informed Mr Lynch that the ceiling boards in the garage contained asbestos.
Mr Lynch instructed two employees, who had no experience in asbestos removal, to take down the boards with no protective measures in place. Once they had taken down the boards, they stored them inside the house for a further three months before they were moved into the front garden to be disposed of. Subsequent examination of these boards identified them as Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) – a high risk product which requires an asbestos removal licence to remove.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Lynch was made aware that asbestos was present in the property, and yet he failed to make adequate enquiries as to where the asbestos was, its type and the condition it was in, prior to carrying out the removal. He also instructed his employees, who lacked the necessary competence, to carry out the removal with no control measures in place.
A construction firm and its director have been sentenced after carrying out unsafe work on the roof of a multi-storey building in Manchester. Manchester Crown Court heard that concerns were raised with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after workers were spotted on the roof of the building in Norfolk Street, Manchester, without safety measures in place to prevent a fall.
HSE carried out two inspections at the site following the reports. On the second site visit, on 27 February 2019, employees were found to be working on the roof with no suitable controls in place to prevent falls. Inspectors intervened and stopped the work on site.
An investigation by HSE found that the unsafe work on the roof had taken place over a period of time from 1 January 2019 to 28 February 2019 with a significant risk of death or serious injury.
Exquisite Solutions (Alsager) Limited of St James House, Salford, was found guilty of breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £42,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,049.73 plus a victim surcharge of £170.
Company director Ali Wit Wit of St James House, Salford, was found guilty of breaching section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, in relation to the company’s failing of section 2(1) of the Act. Mr Wit Wit was given a community order for 270 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £5,049.73 and a victim surcharge of £85.
A gas engineering company has been fined after undertaking Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) installation work at a food factory near Spalding that was later condemned as being unsafe. Lincoln Magistrates’ Court heard how Glen Farrow UK Ltd undertook the installation of a liquid LPG bottle filling system at the food preparation company during January and February 2018. An inspection by the LPG supplier on 13 February 2018 found numerous defects in the installation which put the safety of workers at the factory at risk.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company took on work that they did not have the competencies for. They failed to plan the work adequately and to specify the correct materials and design for the installation. The engineer they sent was not competent to work on a liquid LPG installation of this sort. When asked to quote for this work, Glen Farrow UK Ltd should have realised that it was outside of their competence and subcontracted the work to a company with expertise in liquid LPG installations.
Glen Farrow UK Ltd of Glendum Close, Pinchbeck, Spalding pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3131.60.
An Irvine-based construction company and its director have been sentenced after multiple health and safety failings, giving rise to significant risk, were found on a house build site in Irvine. Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard how three inspections by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) took place at the construction site at Eglington Park in Irvine between October and December 2016.
As a result of these inspections, multiple prohibition and improvement notices were served on Stable Homes Limited for health and safety failings including unsafe scaffolding, unsafe electrics, inadequate welfare, unsafe traffic management, site tidiness and lack of general fire precautions.
The HSE investigation found that as client and principal contractor, Stable Homes Limited had failed to put an adequate plan in place to manage and monitor the construction phase of the project and this had led to significant risks on site. They also failed to take adequate action to rectify the failings and comply with the enforcement notices.
The HSE investigation also found that Director of the company, Ravinder Singh, was acting as site manager and directly involved in the failings of the company.
Stable Homes Limited of Mill Crescent, Irvine, pleaded guilty to seven charges under health and safety regulations and was fined a total of £35,332. Ravinder Singh, of the same address, pleaded guilty to six charges under Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for the offences by the company being committed with his consent or attributable to his neglect. Mr Singh was sentenced to 166 hours community pay back order and was disqualified from holding a directorship for two years.