Health & Safety Prosecutions and Myths – May 2014

Company and director in court for safety neglect
 
A Gwent-based property development company and its director were fined more than £4,000 each for endangering their employees’ lives through unsafe roof work. While the company was installing a new roof in Cardiff, a member of the public saw the construction site, noticed the site’s dangers and contacted the HSE. The HSE’s subsequent inspection found three people working on a fragile pitched roof between 5 and 8 metres above the ground with no measures to stop them from falling through the roof or off its edges to the concrete below.
 
Worker loses leg when crushed by vehicle
An engineering firm in Stanley, County Durham was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £8,045 in costs after its safety failings led to a worker losing his right leg. The 32-year-old worker was crushed between a moving vehicle and a water tank for almost an hour before being freed by emergency services. He spent a month in hospital, during which time his right leg was amputated above the knee. An HSE investigation revealed the firm neglected to provide effective measures to prevent any contact with the moving vehicle.
 
Ban on filling working dog’s water bowl
A Perth deaf woman who is accompanied by a hearing dog in the workplace was prohibited by her employer from filling up her dog’s water bowl in the office’s communal kitchen. Her employer reasoned that filling up a dog’s bowl in a kitchen is against health and safety law and would upset the other employees. Instead, the employer expects the deaf woman to take the dog’s bowl to the toilet to empty it, then bring it back to her desk only to successively fill it up by collecting cups of water from the kitchen. The HSE declared this a particularly egregious case of hiding pointless rules behind bogus health and safety claims.
 
Pork crackling banned in restaurant
A London restaurant refused to serve pork crackling because health and safety law deemed the food too dangerous (or so it claimed). But pork crackling is not banned from restaurants. Although it can be tricky to serve, the HSE believes breaking the crackling into pieces for serving should be a fairly basic skill for any chef to acquire.