Recent HSE News, Myths and Prosecutions – September 2014

Burger van refuses to cut burger in half
A London burger van refused a customer’s request to cut a burger in half, citing ‘health and safety reasons’. The HSE Myth Busters Panel concluded this is not a health and safety matter. There is no legislation barring the worker from using a knife to cut food—in fact, the public expects them to safely do just that. The council declared it has a ‘real beef’ with these kinds of unhelpful responses which completely misuse the phrase ‘health and safety’.
 
Primary school bans ladders
An Aberystwyth primary school banned the use of ladders in the classroom due to vague ‘health and safety’ reasons, and instead suggests the use of chairs to reach something at height. Of course, there is no health and safety law that prevents primary schools from using stepladders in classrooms. In fact, a properly designed stepladder will often be the most sensible and practical option for carrying out tasks that involve working at height for a short time—it is certainly better than standing on a chair.
 
£240,000 fine after driver crushed
A Stonehaven animal feed company was fined £240,000 after several safety failings led to the death of a lorry driver. The driver, a 49-year-old from Balmedie, was helping a forklift driver deposit 1.5 tonnes of feed in his lorry. However, as the operation commenced, the bin started to move on the forks, fell, and then crushed the lorry driver who was standing in front of the forklift. An HSE investigation uncovered an absence of safe working systems, inadequate training and lax rules regarding visiting drivers helping to load the grain.
 
Company fined after worker loses the tips of two fingers
A Newport food company was fined £2,400 and ordered to pay £4,373 in costs after an employee lost the tips of two fingers while using an unguarded machine. The worker, a 28-year-old woman from Cwmbran, was clearing cake mixture from a pipe with her hand when her fingers got caught in the machine’s pump mechanism, severing the tips of her index and middle fingers on her right hand. The company failed to install safety bars on the machine which would have prevented the worker from touching the pump.