Here are the most notable health and safety news stories of the week:
HSE to Prosecute Alton Towers Owners After Crash
Without a doubt, one of the biggest health and safety news stories of this week, and possibly this year, is the news that HSE will be prosecuting the owners of Alton Towers.This comes after passengers suffered serious physical injuries and psycologial trauma on The Smiler rollercoaster last June, when a full carriage collided with an empty, stationary carriage on the same track. The most serious injuries were suffered by two female passengers, who both had to have a leg amputated as a result of the impact. HSE have said that there is sufficient evidence that the prosecution is in the public interest, and that the comany had breached Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Didcot Power Station Collapse Prompts Health and Safety Questions
Since the defunct Didcot power station building collapsed on Tuesday, it has been revealed that the company demolishing the building had no previous experience of working on a similar project. The incident which has claimed at least one life already, occurred whilst the Coleman Group were preparing the building for demolition. With a further 5 injuries, 47 cases of dust inhalation, and 3 more people reported to be missing (presumed dead) under the wreckage, there is no doubt that this tragic incident will raise serious questions as to whether it could have been prevented. While the rescue operation remains a priority, the rescue team must take extreme care to ensure that they are prepared for the possibility of further collapse.
Waste Management Firm in Court Over the Death of a Young Man
Rainbow Waste, a firm based in Derbyshire, has been prosecuted by the HSE after a worker was crushed by the bucket of a motorised loading shovel. The 24 year old worker suffered fatal injuries to his head and spine, a tragic incident which prompted the HSE to examine the working practices of the firm. On examination of CCTV footage, it was revealed that over two hundred examples of unsafe working practices had been captured in the days leading up to the incident. The firm were fined £136,000 and ordered to pay 64,770 in costs, for breeching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work act.
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It has been reported that the Health and Safety Executive, the UK’s Health and Safety authority, is prosecuting film production company Foodles Production (UK) Ltd. Over an incident in which famous film star Harrison Ford was serious injured.
Harrison Ford, 73, who reprised his role as one of the great leaders of the rebel alliance, and captain of the Millennium Falcon - Han Solo, in the Force Awakens, suffered a broken leg and other injuries when he was struck by a heavy hydraulic door on the set of the Millennium Falcon. The accident happened in June 2014, and resulted in Harrison Ford unable to work for almost 2 months, with production of the film forced to halt in order for the actor to recover.
Foodles, a Disney subsidiary, is to be charged with four safety breaches on the Pinewood Studios Set.
A HSE Spokesperson said:
“By law, employers must take reasonable steps to protect workers – this is as true on a film set as a factory floor. We have investigated thoroughly and believe that we have sufficient evidence to bring the case to court.”
The HSE specifically accused Foodles Production of failing to minimise the risks to its actors and of failing to conduct sufficient assessment of the risk that may have been presented on the film set. They also allegedly failed to keep their employees away from dangerous machinery or to stop the movement of the machinery when employees had to approach.
A spokesman for Foodles responded: "Cast and crew safety is always a top priority. We provided full cooperation during H.S.E.'s investigation into the on-set accident that occurred in June 2014 and are disappointed in H.S.E.'s decision."
Whether it is a factory, work site, or a film set it is essential that you are adhering to health and safety regulations to help minimise the risk of injuries or fatalities. It is vital that if you have employees working around dangerous machinery, that they are warned about the potential dangers that they are facing. Here at label Source, we supply a range of Mandatory Safety signs. Which offer a range of occupational health and safety signs, highlighting the correct use of industrial equipment, use of hand rails, lifting points, and reminders to switch off power supplies.
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A few days ago the BBC reported that Berlin's innovative 'public fridges' were at risk of being closed, due to health and safety concerns. The fridges are indented to lower food waste and provide nourishment for the homeless, by allowing people to leave leftovers and unused food that would otherwise go to waste. While this sounds like a fantastic and progressive idea, there have been some concerns regarding health and safety which could cause the fridges to shut for good.
Local food safety authorities were not pleased by the hygiene standards of some of the fridges, stating that unpackaged and partially torn items were unhygienic, and suggesting that the fridges should be classed as food businesses. The organisers of course insisted that their fridges had never posed a health risk, angered by the suggestion that their project is putting public lives at risk. Fears that the fridges will have to close as a result of these comments has sparked an online petition, in which thousands have expressed their support for the scheme and its continuation.
While we are usually in support of any campaign which intends to improve awareness of food hygiene and public safety, it seems ridiculous to attack a scheme that not only prevents food waste, but also provides the needy with a nutritious portion of food. In many cases, it's likely that the most desperate members of this community would turn to even more unhygienic methods to retrieve food during their lowest points, so isn't it better to provide them with a service which is monitored than to leave them to their own devices?
Although we can't fault the inspectors for raising concerns, their efforts would be better spent in working with the program organisers as opposed to against them. This way, they could organise regular checks and tests of the fridges, and ensure that the proper food safety guidelines were being used and adhered to. If schemes like this are to continue and become more widespread, it's vital that health and safety professionals work alongside coordinators to make the programme both safe and successful.
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For gamers there may be a mixture of excitement and trepidation when approaching an unmarked door at the end of an under-lit corridor. With all other routes of escape ruled out, the only option is to proceed towards the door. Scenarios flash quickly through the gamer’s mind. Will the door itself be booby-trapped? Are there alien lifeforms or mutants on the other side? Beyond the door could you be plunged into a vat of molten goo? The gamer’s hand is extended and clasps the door handle.
One of the key elements of computer games is to heighten tension, maintain mystique and provide scant information. Back on planet Earth, to offer good practice in the interests of personal welfare and safety, the very opposite should apply. Doorways should be marked clearly to advise of any risks or hazards, which may exist at or behind the doors.
This can comprise a variety of hazards including steps, stairs, uneven floors, sloping walkways, slippery or wet floor surfaces, low ceilings, other overhead obstacles, confined spaces, or other obstructions.
To make matters easier, Label Source supply ranges of health and safety signs to clearly identify and create awareness of such hazards, to prevent accidents or injury from slips, trips, falls or bashes. Other safety ranges for use on doors include access and escape signs.