Health & Safety Update

11 October 2013

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Regulations and Guidance

Changes have recently been implemented in England and Wales in relation to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 1995 and the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.  These changes have not yet been adopted in Northern Ireland however it is likely that they will be introduced in future.

The changes to RIDDOR are intended to: “clarify and simplify the reporting requirements”.  Similarly, the First Aid changes are to give businesses “more flexibility in how they manage their provision of first aid in the workplace” as the requirement for HSE to approve first aid training and qualifications has been removed.

Additionally, HSE(GB) has issued updated guidance on “Maintaining portable electric equipment in low-risk environments” (HSG107).  The revised guidance, which is approved for use in Northern Ireland, explains the simple and sensible precautions that need to be taken to prevent danger from portable or movable electrical equipment in low-risk environments, such as offices.  This is to combat the myth “that all portable electrical appliances in a low-risk environment, such as an office, need to have a portable appliance test (PAT) every year”.

Local Case Law

  • There have been approximately 14 reported HSENI prosecutions so far in 2013 (excluding safety prosecutions brought by local authorities).  Surprisingly, 5 of those cases have been heard in the last two weeks.  Highlights of recent cases include:
  • J Murray and Sons has pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter following the death of an employee on 28 February 2012 when he became entangled in an animal feed mixing machine.  The prosecution stated that safety guards at the top of the machine had been removed.  The company is due to be sentenced on 11 October 2013.  This is a significant case as there have only been three other convictions across the UK since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
  • Coleraine Borough Council has pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety legislation following the death of an employee in July 2011 when he was crushed under a skip.  HSE(GB) had reportedly issued a safety warning in 2008 which had not been heeded by the Council and the failure could have been averted by installing a £150 backplate on the waste container.  The hearing has been adjourned for sentencing.
  • Balloo Hire Centre Limited has been fined £13,500 after pleading guilty to two breaches of Articles 5 and 7 of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978.  The case involved an employee who had his arm amputated whilst using unguarded machinery. 
  • Waste Systems Limited has been fined £18,000 plus costs of £1,760 after pleading guilty to breaches of Article 4(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 and Regulation 8 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999.  The case related to an incident on 16 February 2012 where an employee suffered severe injuries resulting in one leg being amputated below the knee.  He had been struck by a five tonne section of metal which fell on him when the slings being used to lift it failed.
  • Bridgeline Environmental Services Limited was fined just £500 (although the Judge stated the fine would have been £5,000 had the company been solvent) for breaches of safety legislation in relation to the handling of asbestos.

Other

The week commencing 21 October 2013 is European Safety and Health at Work Week 2013.  The theme is that of “Working Together for Risk Prevention”.  This is the second and final year of this campaign which was launched in April 2012 focusing on:

  • Risk prevention;
  • Managing risks;
  • Encouraging top managers to actively engage in risk reduction; and
  • Encouraging workers, their representatives and other stakeholders to work with managers to reduce risks.

The 60th Annual Northern Ireland Safety Group (“NISG”) Conference will be held on 22 November 2013 in Belfast: “Safety: Back to the Future”.  This year there will be a focus on planning for the future by learning from the past, as well examination of effective safety leadership from supervisors and senior managers.  There will be a mixture of keynote speakers from the industry including HSE(GB)’s Chair, Judith Hackett.

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