Risk Assessments and Routine Activities


Two further cases involving breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 have highlighted the need for those with health and safety responsibilities to be vigilant in ensuring that day-to-day tasks are carried out in a way that does not put workers at risk.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the two cases, against JCB Earthmovers Ltd. and JC Bamford Excavators Ltd., before the Crown Court, after two employees died in separate incidents whilst carrying out routine tasks. Both companies had pleaded guilty to charges at earlier court hearings.
Welder Darren Ellis was testing the fuel tank of an earthmoving machine for leaks when the inspection plate blew off, causing him fatal head injuries. The investigation into the accident revealed that he had connected a high-pressure instead of a low-pressure airline. The two airlines were similar and had identical connectors. The Court also heard that Mr Ellis was given insufficient training in how to do the job safely. JCB Earthmovers Ltd. was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £31,366.
Paul McNamara suffered fatal head injuries when he was crushed by the boom of an excavating machine. HSE’s investigation revealed that it was common practice for workers to operate the controls for the boom whilst standing outside the cab and leaning through its back window. A fault in the hydraulic system resulted in the control lever malfunctioning and this caused the boom to carry on moving, trapping Mr McNamara and inflicting fatal injuries. JC Bamford Excavators Ltd. was fined £266,000 and ordered to pay costs of £31,701.
Employers should not only ensure that suitable assessments of the risks involved in their undertakings are carried out but must also make sure that workers are trained properly and do not take short cuts when carrying out routine activities, thereby making them dangerous.
Failure to manage health and safety risks can have disastrous consequences for employees and businesses alike. A proactive approach is essential. We can advise you on the policies and procedures necessary to minimise the likelihood of an accident in your workplace that could result in prosecution or an unlimited fine.
Partner Note
Source – HSE press release at http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2008/gnnwm54408.htm.

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