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Brunswicks Regulatory News September 2010

by AndrewDawson 30. September 2010 19:40

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So what do we make of Lord Young's musings on health and safety and the compensation culture and the strident response of the Unions and others to those musings? Of course as matters stand Lord Young has not yet issued his report (that is set to be published after the party conference season has finished in October) - he has merely commented to reporters - along the lines of:

'Frankly if I want to do something stupid and break my leg or neck, that's up to me. I don't need a council to tell me not to be an idiot. I can be an idiot all by myself.' This comment has been taken to a reference to local authorities 'banning' public events such as cheese rolling, and perceived excessive safety precautions such wearing goggles to play conkers.

However the official TUC comment on Lord Young's musings is worth reading in full: TUC Health and Safety Officer Hugh Robertson said:"The signs are that Lord Young's report will be seriously unbalanced. For sure silly things are sometimes done in the name of health and safety and the behaviour of some claims firms can be reprehensible. But the real health and safety scandal in the UK is the 20,000 people who die each year due to injury or diseases linked to their work. A serious review of health and safety would put far more emphasis on dealing with this avoidable death and suffering. Losing a loved one to an occupational disease is rather more serious than losing out on the chance to join a pancake race."

I think we could be forgiven if we thought that neither understood the other, nor indeed were talking about the same issues and in fact I think this is very much the case.

If we cast our minds back to the old 'New Labour' government one of the actions they took early on was the effective abolition of legal aid for those wanting or needing assistance to make a claim for compensation. They replaced the legal aid system by permitting solicitors to enter into previously banned no-win no-fee arrangements, known as contingency fee ar­rangements in the trade which also permitted the lawyers to charge a success fee on top of the fees they were otherwise entitled to charge.

The theory was that lawyers would take the rough with the smooth - and effectively be funded to take on more challenging or perhaps more risky cases by the success fees when they won - offsetting the absence of fees when they pursued a losing case. If that really was the then government's motivation how sadly stupid and deluded they were.

Lawyers are, on occasion entrepreneurial. Guess what, if you are able to pursue winning cases virtually all the time you make handsome profits without the pesky thought that you should be taking on some challenging cases with the likelihood of loosing. So lawyers and case management businesses inevitably went in search of easy cases with very little likeli­hood of loosing - such as personal injury cases associated with road traffic accidents and accidents at work.

The compensation culture was given a massive boost by law firms seeking out winnable cases - something which the legal aid board never did when considering whether or not to fund a claimant's case under the old arrangements.

You could make the point that the compensation culture was perhaps an unintended conse­quence of the old government doing away with civil legal aid coupled with the ease of mak­ing a claim when dealing with work related accidents or injuries where the vast plethora of regulations that govern work place activity.

Now if we return to Lord Young's musings about being permitted to do 'something stu­pid' we can all agree, I'm sure, that a voluntary assumption of risk when doing something you have chosen to do in your own leisure time is probably ok for society - but none of us would, I'm sure accept that it would be reasonable or appropriate for that approach to be taken at the work place. I think all of us would have a major problem with a boss saying to a worker: 'Don't worry that lathe is a bit dodgy and I've not got round to fixing the guards, but if you are careful you should be ok...'; or even placing members of the public at risk.

We are looking forward to Lord Young's report with great interest - perhaps with the excep­tion of the no-win no fee lawyers and the claims management companies!

On a much more mundane note, when reporting on prosecutions I am going to ensure that the penalty imposed is prominently displayed and I will also attempt to rank them by penal­ty. When taking this approach you have to bear in mind that the size of any fine, whilst be­ing a reflection on the perceived seriousness of case, it is not the whole story. A defendant's ability to pay is a key factor in determining the penalty imposed - and thus a crude ranking of cases by fines will mean that less severe breaches committed by a wealthy organisation will rank higher when compared with a really serious breach by an impecunious defendant. Ranking this way will also mean that other factors such as the 30% discount on penalty for a prompt plea of guilt could distort the list. Also you have to bear in mind that in Scotland the defendant is not required to pay the costs of the investigation and prosecution which is the case elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The sentencing courts in England, Wales and North­ern Ireland have to take account of the costs being imposed with any fine when determining the total penalty to be imposed. So with these caveats on to September's news.



HSE Prosecutions

Walkers and Omnichem fined after man killed by toxic gas

Total fines £350,000

Food giant Walkers Snack Foods Ltd and chemical distributor Omnichem Ltd have been fined a total of £350,000 after a worker was killed by a cloud of toxic gas.

John Marriott, 59, of Scalford, near Melton Mowbray, was working for Omnichem on 19 July 2006 when he was seriously affected by green chlorine dioxide fumes.

The HSE which brought the prosecution, told Leicester Crown Court that Mr Marriott was driving a lorry containing four steel tanks, two with sodium chlorite and two containing hy­drochloric acid, to Walkers' site in Leycroft Road, Beaumont Leys, in Leicester.

Both chemicals are used in Walkers' starch reclamation unit, which turns waste starch into food-grade material used to make snack foods. Mr Marriott inadvertently mixed up the hoses on the tanks while transferring the two chemicals from the lorry, causing them to pro­duce green fumes of chlorine dioxide.  When he realised his error, Mr Marriott stopped the transfer and started to hose the area down, but he was already starting to be affected by the toxic gas.

Mr Marriott and a Walkers' employee who tried to help, were both taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary. The Walkers' employee was in hospital for 30 hours, with breathing difficulties, but later recovered. Mr Marriott's condition gradually deteriorated, and he died from the effects of the gas a month later on 17 August 2006.

Walkers Snack Foods Ltd, of Arlington Business Park, Theale, Reading, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £200,000. It was also ordered to pay costs of £38,971.

Omnichem Ltd, of Asfordby Business Park, Melton Mowbray, admitted the same charges and was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £29,229 costs.

HSE inspector Sue Thompson said:  "This incident was entirely preventable. Basic risk assessments and clear procedures could have avoided Mr Marriott's tragic death but as it was there were a catalogue of serious fail­ings.

"Employees who had tried to help Mr Marriott did not know the type of operation that was being carried out, nor the nature of the gas being released. They had no appropriate train­ing and they had no idea what to do.

"It took about an hour after the appearance of the gas cloud for Walkers to realise the grav­ity of matters, and to get employees out of the area. Walkers had no planned evacuation procedure for a chemical emergency at this location, which was a major failing.

"There were insufficient written procedures for deliveries of chemicals and for the receipt of chemicals, and the tanks were also insufficiently labelled."

Ed - this is clearly a very tragic case. Would it not have been possible to use different valves and hoses as the fuel industry does in an attempt to stop unleaded and diesel being mixed up - leaving aside the other very obvious failings.


Off-shore breaches bring big fines following windfarm injury

Total fines £243,750

At Aberdeen Sheriff Court Talisman Energy (UK) Ltd and Scaldis Salvage and Marine Contrac­tors B.V. have been fined a total of £243,750 for breaches of Health and Safety legislation which resulted in serious injury to an offshore worker.

On 25 August 2006, 20km offshore in the Moray Firth, during construction of the Beatrice Windfarm Turbine B, one of two wind turbine generators which were being built to provide power to the Beatrice AP Oil Platform. Alexander Murray, 48, from Aberdeen, was standing on a partly completed structure whilst another part was lowered into place by a heavy lift vessel, when the part swung towards him and crushed his left leg. The incident resulted in Mr Murray's left leg having to be amputated.

The case was investigated by the HSE and prosecuted by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) Health and Safety Division. Guilty pleas were tendered by the two companies.

Following the case, Elaine Taylor, Head of the COPFS Health and Safety Division, said:

"Failures to properly respect health and safety can have a huge impact on people's lives. Everyone has the right to a safe working environment. It is the responsibility of employers to ensure this. When they fail to meet their responsibilities they can expect to be prosecuted.

"In this case, as a result of this joint working, both companies pled guilty which meant that the case was resolved without the case proceeding to trial and witnesses being required to give evidence. This wholly avoidable incident has had a devastating effect on Mr Murray's life. We hope, however, that he can derive some comfort from our commitment to prosecute those in breach of health and safety legislation and to work with the enforcing authorities to raise standards of health and safety in the workplace, hopefully to prevent similar incidents in future."

Following the case, HSE Principal Inspector Marc Nunn said:

"Mr Murray lost his leg in this avoidable incident that could have easily had far worse conse­quences. The case demonstrates the importance of adequately planning and assessing the risks, and implementing sensible management controls, for all lifting activities.

"Both Talisman and Scaldis should reasonably have foreseen the potential for the load to move, and taken measures to prevent their personnel being exposed to the hazards of a swinging load."

Newhaven docks and shipping co fined following drowning

Total fines £185,000

Croydon Crown Court heard that the Sardina Vera ferry, which was owned by Forship S.p.a, had docked at Newhaven late on 12 January 2005 when the incident happened.

Crew member Luigi Feola, 38 from Sardinia, was responsible for bringing fresh water on to the ship and was seen carrying a hose along a narrow strip of quay alongside the ship just before the incident.

An hour after the ship had docked someone on board heard a splash in the water and raised the alarm. A search was mounted immediately, but Mr Feola's body was not found until the next day. A post-mortem examination revealed he had suffered a head wound before drowning.

An investigation by the HSE found that the quayside where Mr Feola was working had insuf­ficient edge protection, was not properly lit and the risks of the job had not been properly assessed.  After the incident, HSE issued Newhaven Port & Properties Limited with an Improvement Notice, requiring the company to maintain the quay at Newhaven Docks, in a safe condition, but the company had still failed to comply with this by the end of April 2005.

HSE inspector, Paul Vinnicombe, said:

"It's absolutely vital that the quaysides at ports are maintained properly, are well lit and are fit for purpose. The lack of proper planning, combined with the appalling state of the quay­side at the port, led to the unnecessary death of Mr Feola. On top of that, the risks involved in the job he was asked to do had not been assessed, and he was not give a suitable life­jacket, torch, or radio. This highlights why rigorous health and safety procedures are needed at working ports, and it is totally unacceptable that improvements identified following the incident were not made sooner."

Newhaven Port & Properties Limited, of East Quay, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) HSWA. The company also pleaded guilty to failing to maintain Newhaven Docks as required by an Improvement Notice issued after the incident. The company was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay costs of £34,000.

Forship S.p.a, of Porto Vado, Italy, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) HSWA. The com­pany was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £43,782.


Interserve fined and the MoD censured

Total fine £33,000 and Crown Censure

The Ministry of Defence has received a formal Crown Censure from the HSE after potentially exposing workers to asbestos fibres. As a Crown body the MoD cannot be prosecuted as a private company would be in the criminal courts.

The Censure was received by a senior manager from Defence Estates on behalf of MoD. Defence Estates is an operating arm of the MoD and is responsible for managing the military estate - including managing asbestos on the estate.

In early 2005 an asbestos survey at an MoD base near Bicester, Oxfordshire was ignored for more than a year. The original survey considered a boiler room on the base to be contami­nated with asbestos and the report recommended access to the room be restricted until the asbestos had been removed.

Defence Estates and their facilities management company Interserve (Defence) Ltd, of Wa­terloo Road, London, failed to follow the advice of the survey and, consequently, workers were left at risk of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres.

In the Crown Censure the HSE asserted that in its view the MoD did not comply with regula­tions 4(8)(c), 6(1)(a) and 10(1)(a) of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2002 at the Bicester site between 23 May 2005 and 30 September 2006.

HSE Director for its East and South East Division, Heather Bryant, who chaired the Censure hearing said:

"Defence Estates and Interserve (Defence) Ltd knew that asbestos-containing materials existed at the Bicester site but the arrangements they had in place for managing them were not effective in controlling this well-known risk. The standard for managing asbestos at the Bicester site fell far below what the law requires.

HSE's investigating inspector, Matthew Lee, said:

"Asbestos may be present in any premises built before the year 2000 in a variety of forms. When disturbed, damaged or left in poor condition it can give rise to a risk of exposure to employees working in the vicinity.

"It is therefore essential that duty holders have effective arrangements for detecting it and managing the risk it may present.

"Facilities managers are key to ensuring that these effective systems are in place to protect workers and to ensure that duty holders meet their legal responsibilities."

Interserve (Defence) Ltd, of Waterloo Road, London were prosecuted and were fined £33,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,936 for offences under the same regulations.

Ed - [ Crown bodies, including departments and agencies enjoy what is known as 'Crown Immunity.' This immunity means that such bodies cannot be prosecuted or have any other statutory enforcement brought against them other than a 'Crown Censure.'

Cabinet Office Personnel Information Note 45 (PIN 45) deals with the enforcement proce­dures for Crown bodies, including Crown censures, can be found on HSE's website at: [2]


Partners and company fined after worker killed

Total fines £30,000

Fines totalling £30,000 have been imposed following the death of a Salford worker, who was struck by the excavator bucket on a digger.

John Cain, 36, was working on a project to demolish the Albert Park Inn on Great Clowes Street in Salford on 22 November 2004 when he was hit by the bucket on a digger. He died from his injuries later that day.

The HSE prosecuted two individuals and a company for health and safety offences, following an investigation into his death. Business partners Barry Godliman and Robert Watson were the principal contractors on the site, and Windmill Demolition Company Ltd was a specialist subcontractor hired to carry out the demolition work.

Albert Park Inn demolition site in Salford

HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman added:

"This case demonstrates how important it is for contractors to be aware of their health and safety duties, especially when there are several companies working on a project.

"Barry Godliman and Robert Watson were the principal contractors on the site and so should have made sure all work was carried out safely. Windmill Demolition had been hired to oversee and carry out the demolition work, and so had responsibilities for managing safety as well.  I hope this case will encourage construction companies to do more to manage health and safety on sites effectively."

Barry Godliman and Robert Watson pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) HSWA by fail­ing to ensure the safety of workers on the site. Both were fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £2,000 each.

Windmill Demolition, of Windmill Lane in Denton, was found guilty of the same offence fol­lowing a trial at Manchester Crown Court in July. The company was fined £15,000 with no costs.


Company and director prosecuted after worker plunges

Total fines £30,000

A building company and its director have been fined a total of £30,000 after a worker fell nearly thirty feet from scaffolding at a building site in Llanfairfechan, sustaining severe inju­ries.

JBB Homes Ltd of St. Petersgate, Stockport in Cheshire - which has subsequently gone into liquidation - pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) HSWA. It was fined £20,000 and or­dered to pay costs of £10,835.  The site in Llanfairfechan where the incident took place.

The company's director, James Burt, based at the same address in Stockport, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £10,000.

Llandudno Magistrates' Court heard that builder Nicholas Roberts, 28 years old from Rhyl, was working on scaffolding at a site in Gwylanedd, The Promenade, Llanfairfechan on 4 De­cember 2007 when the incident happened.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Roberts was carrying out work to replace a lintel, when he fell from the scaffolding. He fractured his pelvis in three places, broke some teeth and bruised his pelvis and groin.

Following the hearing HSE Inspector, Debbie John, said:

"Falling from a height of around nine metres, Mr Roberts was extremely lucky to survive. It's incredible that he managed to walk away with broken bones.

"JBB Homes Limited and James Burt failed in their duty to provide a safe system of work, including a lack of suitable means to prevent falls from the scaffolding. Mr Burt also failed to properly supervise his staff.

"Falls from height remain the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and one of the main causes of major injury and construction companies must not leave safety of their workers as an after-thought, which could lead to tragic consequences."


Company fined after 17-year-old worker injured in fall

Total fine £28,500

A Croydon company has been fined after a young worker suffered multiple fractures and internal injuries when he fell through a roof-light after only weeks into his job.

Lewis Edwards, 17, from Sidcup, had only been at STP Solutions Ltd a few weeks when the incident happened and it was his first job since leaving school.

An investigation by the HSE revealed that his employers told him to go onto a warehouse roof and clean out the guttering at the Argent Centre, Pump Lane, in Hayes Middlesex on May 2009.

City of London Magistrates heard that this was an unsafe way to carry out the work and that Mr Edwards was left alone and unsupervised to do the job.

Mr Edwards was crossing the roof when he stepped through a roof light and fell 7m onto the floor of the empty warehouse. He suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis, a number of vertebrae, his collar bone, upper left arm, elbow and left wrist. His spleen was ruptured and had to be removed in emergency surgery.

The court also heard that Mr Edwards used to be a very good footballer having played for West Ham juniors. He had started to take coaching qualifications, but his injuries have had a limiting effect on his life and he is still receiving medical treatment.

The company, STP Solutions, of St Andrews Road, Croydon, pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA and reg 3(1) (a) MHSWR and reg 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The company was fined £28,500 and ordered to pay costs of £9,359.

HSE inspector Clare Hawkes said:

"There is no reason why this job could not have been carried out safely if the company had planned and supervised it properly. The horrendous injuries suffered by this young man could have been avoided if the safety risks had been managed and a safe method of work put in place.  Young, inexperienced workers cannot be expected to be aware of risks or have knowledge of safety controls. It's the employer's responsibility to put in place measures to ensure their employees' safety at work."

"The dangers of working at height are well known and there's a wealth of free guidance available on how to work safely at height."

Lewis's mother, Sara Edwards, said: "16 months since Lewis's horrific accident, he still bears the physical and mental scars that have had a tragic effect on his life, and the pressures of this have torn our family apart. His accident was directly due to the lack of supervision, training and safety management of his employers.  He should never have been placed in such a vulnerable position and he will now have to carry this with him for the rest of his life."


Sawmill fined after two severely injured in three months

Total fine £28,000

A Troon sawmilling firm has been fined a total of £28,000 after two of its employees were severely injured in separate incidents less than three months apart.

On 28 May 2007, John Wilson, 55, of Dalmellington, Ayrshire, was working for Adam Wil­son and Sons Limited in Troon, Ayrshire, when he fell through a gap in a raised walkway left open after work had been done on a conveyor belt below. He suffered serious injuries to his arm and permanent loss of movement in his shoulder as a result of the fall.

Less than three months later, on 24 August 2007, Robert Cumming, 59, of Ayr, was work­ing at the same plant when his head was trapped between the metal parts of a hoist after it was switched on while he was working on it. He suffered serious crush injuries to his head and neck and required emergency surgery. He is having ongoing physiotherapy for his inju­ries.

The HSE found that the company did not have safe systems of work in place for maintaining the conveyor belt, or the hoist machine. The investigation also found that staff had not been given enough information, training, instruction and supervision on the importance of safe systems of work and machinery isolation when doing maintenance work.

Adam Wilson and Sons Limited pleaded guilty to breaching HSWA Section 2 in both cases. They were fined £8,000 for the first incident and £20,000 for the second incident.

HSE Inspector Helen Diamond said:

"These were two serious and entirely preventable accidents which will affect both Mr Wilson and Mr Cumming for the rest of their lives.

"Employers need to recognise the importance of making sure that safe systems of work are in place to prevent these sorts of accident, and to give their employees the training, informa­tion, instruction and supervision they need to carry out their work safely."


Worker dies during demolition at boarding school

Total fine £25,000

A Shropshire boarding school has been fined £25,000 after a worker was killed while demol­ishing a building on the site.

The HSE prosecuted Moor Park Charitable Trust Ltd which runs Moor Park School, after it ar­ranged for a team of inexperienced building workers to demolish a large wooden classroom on 14 August 2007.

The HSE investigation revealed the workers had no effective plan in place and removed in­tegral supports within the classroom's structure, causing the roof to collapse while five men were inside.

Mark Evans, aged 40, of Ludlow suffocated when the roof, which weighed 2.4 tonnes, fell on top of him. The four other men survived without serious injury thanks to the chance posi­tioning of a dumper which was parked inside part of the building, creating an escape route.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that Moor Park School had arranged for a self-employed general building worker, Mr Christopher Morris who was undertaking some minor roofing work on the site, to carry out the work.

He asked four other self-employed building workers to assist in the demolition even though none of them had training or relevant experience. The school failed to make any reasonable enquiries into the competence of the men to undertake the demolition work prior to the work beginning.

HSE inspector Nic Rigby said:

"There were five men inside this building when it collapsed. Mr Evans paid the ultimate price for the school's failings. But for sheer good fortune, all five of them could have been killed."

"But Mr Evans and the other workers should not have been put at such increased risk. Had Moor Park School taken reasonable steps to properly consider the demolition work, they would have appointed a competent and experienced contractor, and avoided the roof col­lapse."

"This awful event and the prosecution of the school must send a very clear message to all those who commission construction or demolition work. It must be properly planned and carried out by those with the experience and competence to do so."

Moor Park School of Moor Park in Ludlow pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA. As well as the fine, it was also ordered to pay £15,000 in costs.


Manufacturer fined following death

Total fines £20,000

A building materials manufacturer and its director have been fined a total of £20,000 after a former soldier was killed by an industrial mixing machine blade.

The HSE prosecuted Bury-based Building Chemical Research (1984) Ltd (BCR) and company director Stuart Reich, 62, following Paul Palmer's death at the company's premises on Sion Street in Radcliffe.

[1] Paul Palmer had climbed into the machine - a powerful, slow speed mixer - to clean it on 30 August 2005 when it was switched on by another employee. Bolton Crown Court heard that it should have been impossible to switch on the machine while someone was inside.

Mr Palmer was brought up in Holywell in North Wales and served in the Falklands, Bosnia and Kuwait during his 13 years in the army. His brother, Ted Palmer, said:

"My other brother, John, died from an asbestos disease a few years before Paul, and their deaths have really devastated our family.  Paul was just a happy-go-lucky chap. Not a lot fazed him; he just took everything in his stride. It just seems wrong that he survived over a decade in the army and then was killed by a machine in a factoryI can't understand how manufacturing companies can become complacent over health and safety in this day and age. I just hope highlighting Paul's death will stop it happening to someone else."  The machine which caused Mr Palmer's death

BCR was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £8,000 towards the cost of the prosecution on 20 September. The company's director, Stuart Reich of Gisburn Road, Gisburn, Lancashire, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,000. (Ed presumably a breach of s37 HSWA in the case of Mr Reich)

Both admitted their offences.


Preston engineering firm in court over worker's death

Total fines £17,500

A Preston engineering firm has been fined after a worker was killed when he became en­tangled in machinery.

An HSE investigation detailed how Michael Lohaza was found dead after becoming trapped in a lathe at Autoy Ltd's site on Castleton Road in Preston on 10 January 2009.

The machine which caused Mr Lohaza's death

The 45-year-old, from Ashton-on-Ribble in Preston, was discovered by two colleagues in a small building next to the main workshop, where he had been working alone. He had worked at the firm for 28 years.  Preston Crown Court heard Mr Lohaza was killed when he became entangled on a one-metre-long metal screw, while cutting its thread on a lathe. The screw was rotating approxi­mately 200 times every minute.

Autoy Ltd was prosecuted by HSE for failing to ensure Mr Lohaza's safety, and for failing to assess the risks workers faced while operating lathes

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) HSWA and reg 3(1)(a) MHSWA 1999.

Autoy Ltd was fined £17,500 and ordered to pay £12,251 costs at Preston Crown Court on 24 September

Michael Clarke, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

"It is extremely sad that Michael Lohaza needlessly lost his life after nearly three decades working for the same company.

"The risk of entanglement on lathes is well known in the engineering industry, which is why trained machine operators are required to wear suitable clothing. Those with long hair should be told to have it securely fastened and out of harm's way.

"Autoy was unable to demonstrate it had assessed the risks faced by employees working alone on the lathe. It should have made sure all workers, including Michael, wore suitable clothing while operating the lathe. If they had taken this action then Michael might still be alive today."

Autoy Ltd, which has relocated to Summit House in Higher Walton, was established in 1943 and supplies metal components to the aerospace, automotive, nuclear and other industries.


Horrific hand injury

Total fine £16,000

A manufacturing company has been fined £16,000 after a worker's finger and thumb were severed as he tried to unblock machinery.

Production Supervisor Simon Partridge was in charge of the night-shift at Saint-Gobain We­ber Ltd, in Flitwick, Bedfordshire, when he suffered the injuries on 28 November 2007.

The Bedfordshire plant was manufacturing façade tiling and materials for the construction industry when a waste extraction system - which took dust out of the workplace - became blocked. Mr Partridge, 37, of Clapham, near Bedford, attempted to clear the blockage with his left hand and it became entangled in the rotary valve. His finger and thumb were cut off by the machine and could not be saved, despite extensive surgery.

Investigations by the HSE found the machine's safety guards could be removed by members of staff using tools the company had provided, which is against the legal requirement for guarding to be in place. Inspectors were also concerned about the system for isolating the power from machinery, which was below expected standards.

Saint-Gobain Weber Limited, of Dickens House, Maulden Road, Enterprise Way, Flitwick, Bedfordshire, appeared at Bedford and Mid-Bedfordshire Magistrates' Court yesterday (Tuesday 28 September) to face charges brought by HSE.

The firm, which manufactures materials for the construction industry, admitted breaching s2(1) HSWA. The Magistrates fined the company £16,000 and required it to pay £3,560 in costs.

HSE Inspector Graham Tompkins said:

"Unfortunately this kind of horrific injury is all too common. This case would not have hap­pened if a suitable system of work had been used, including power isolation arrangements and safety guards that were not so easily bypassed. Employers have a legal obligation to protect the safety of their workers and help prevent serious injuries like this occurring. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute when companies fail in this basic duty."


Skegness firm prosecuted over fatal fall at Doncaster farm

Total fine £15,000

A Skegness caravan park operator has been fined £15,000 for safety failings after a worker fell to his death in a hay barn near Doncaster.

Blue Anchor Leisure Ltd, of Chapel St Leonards, pleaded guilty to a breach of s3(1) HSWA at Doncaster Magistrates Court.

Clifford Hartley, 59, from Skegness, was re-roofing a fire-damaged barn at Westfield Farm, on Nutwell Lane, Armthorpe, with a colleague when the incident occurred on 4 September 2008.

A stack of hay bales had been positioned inside the barn to provide a working platform and to try and break any falls, but when Mr Hartley fell from the roof he landed 18 inches to the side of them onto a concrete floor, sustaining fatal head injuries.

The hay bales were only stacked to roof level in parts and didn't extend far enough inside the barn to provide complete protection. So when Mr Hartley fell they were effectively use­less.

The HSE brought charges against Blue Anchor Leisure Ltd for failing to adequately protect its employees.

In addition to the £15,000 fine, the company was also ordered to pay £4,964 in costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Medani Close said:

"This is a tragic death that could easily have been avoided had Mr Hartley's employer taken more time to assess the potential risks to him and his co-worker, and done more to avoid them.

"The bales of hay in the barn could have provided an adequate safety system, however, the way they were situated left little room for error and they clearly weren't fit for purpose. That responsibility and subsequent failing ultimately rests with Blue Anchor Leisure Ltd." 


Premier foods fined after worker's skull crushed

Total fines £14,000

The UK's biggest food manufacturer has been fined £14,000 after a 65kg metal pillar fell on a maintenance engineer in Merseyside, crushing his skull.

Thomas Williams, from Prenton in Wirral, was working at Premier Foods Group Ltd's site at Manor Bakeries in Moreton on 24 July 2008 when a 4m section of pillar fell on his head.

Premier Foods was prosecuted by the HSE for failing to ensure the safety of its employees.

Wirral Magistrates' Court heard the 61-year-old suffered severe traumatic brain and spinal injuries, and was in hospital for more than six months. He now has difficulty speaking and moving, and his wife hasn't been able to work since, in order to look after him.

Mr Williams and a colleague had been helping to remove cages and pillars from a storage area at the Reeds Lane site. They used an angle grinder to cut the pillar, but when they levered it free at the base it came detached from the ceiling at the same time and struck Mr Williams.

The HSE investigation found that the company had not properly planned the task, and had not trained workers on how to carry out the work safely.

Phil Redman, the investigating inspector at HSE, said:

The section of pillar that caused the injury

"A man's life has been turned upside down because basic health and safety procedures weren't followed. Mr Williams has been permanently disabled from his injuries and will never be able to return to work.  Premier Foods could have brought in specialists to carry out the work but instead Mr Wil­liams and a colleague were just told to get on with the job.

"Mr Williams did not have any previous experience of carrying out this kind of work, and he should not have been put in a position where he had to make decisions about how to do it. There really is no excuse for a company the size of Premier Foods to make this kind of error when it comes to health and safety."

Premier Foods Group Ltd, of Centrium Business Park, Griffiths Way, St Albans, pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA. The company was ordered to pay £6,808 towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to the fine.


Failure to assess risk

Total fines £14,000

RM Supplies (Inverkeithing) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) and 5 of the Docks Regulations 1988. The company was fined a total of £14,000 following an incident in which after a night watchman was injured falling into water from the quayside.

The operation involved the berthing of a vessel at Berth No.1 of a quay that was in a severe­ly dilapidated condition. This was done at night, even though the quay lacked any lighting. In the course of this operation, Charles Greenhill, 47, fell into the water between the quay and the berthing vessel. Due to a lack of adequate means of escape or rescue, Mr Greenhill had to be rescued by the vessel's lifeboat.

At Dunfermline Sheriff Court Mr Thomas Muir, who was Director of RM Supplies (In­verkeithing) Ltd, also pleaded guilty to the charge of failure to carry out suitable and suffi­cient risk assessment - a breach of reg 3(1) MHSWR.

HSE Inspector Michael Orr said:

"This was a significant breach of health and safety law which could have resulted in death had it not been for the intervention of the ship's crew. The conditions on site were unaccept­able. There was no suitable or sufficient risk assessment, or attempt at planning which could have identified the state of the quay as unacceptable for use for any dock operations. This case should serve as a warning to all employers to ensure that routine and infrequent activi­ties are effectively planned."

Ed - Regulation 4(1) of the Docks Regulations 1988 place duties owners or controllers of dock premises (even if they employ no one) in relation to any person whether employed or not who uses their premises. These duties only extend to matters within the person's con­trol.

Regulation 5 of the Docks Regulations 1988 states that dock operations shall be planned and executed in such a manner as to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable that no person will be exposed to danger. The Approved Code of Practice the regulations makes specific reference to mooring and berthing operations. This work is frequently carried out by boat­men who will handle the mooring ropes from their own vessels and on shore. Matters to be considered include the provision of adequate lighting (Regulation 6), safe access (Regula­tion 7) and protective clothing (Regulation 19). Safe systems of work should be laid down to cover mooring operations. 


Textile company fined after worker's arm crushed

Total fines £13,500

A fabric manufacturer has been fined after a worker's arm was so badly crushed he had to have metal plates inserted to help support his broken bones.

Agency worker Robert Dunn, 32, of Ringwood, South Bretton, Peterborough, was operating a fabric winding machine on 4 November 2009 when his left arm was drawn into the roll of material and crushed, breaking all three arm bones. He also suffered ripped cartilage in his left knee, caused by the sudden movement.

E-Leather Limited appeared at Peterborough Magistrates' Court and admitted breaching reg 11 PUWER and reg3(1)(b) MHSWR 1999.

The company, based at the Kingsbridge Centre, Sturrock Way, Peterborough, was fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

An investigation by the HSE found inadequate safety guards on dangerous parts of machin­ery and no sufficient and suitable risk assessment in place.

HSE Inspector Alison Ashworth said:

"Robert Dunn suffered a terrible injury because of an incident that was entirely avoidable. Proper safety guards play an important role in protecting workers from dangerous moving parts and the company had a responsibility to ensure suitable guarding was in place. Had a suitable and sufficient risk assessment been carried out then this issue would have been highlighted straight away."

"HSE will continue to prosecute companies that fail to carry out their duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees."


Newcastle City Council fined after child injured

Total fine £12,000

Newcastle City Council has been fined after a five-year-old girl needed surgery when she was injured by an interactive exhibit at one of its museums.

The child was visiting the Discovery Museum in Newcastle with her family when she placed her hand in an opening of the "Floating on Air" exhibit on 17 August 2009.

The opening led down into the rotating blades of a fan which powered the air flow through the machine. The opening should have been protected by a guard which was missing and so the girl's hand came into contact with the rotating blades of the fan.

The five-year-old put her hand through the opening and suffered serious injuries, which required immediate surgery.

The HSE prosecuted Newcastle City Council, which runs the museum, following the incident. Newcastle City Council, pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) HSWA. It was fined £12,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £7,733.

The HSE's investigation showed that there was no formal system in place to ensure the ex­hibit was in good condition and was safe to use.

Since the incident the youngster also had to undergo further surgery, including a skin graft and a tendon harvest and replacement. The injury has meant she has not been able to take part in some activities, such as swimming and gymnastics and has had repeated hospital visits. Two of her fingers are still bent and scarred.

After the case, HSE inspector, Carol Forster, said:

"The serious injuries that this young girl suffered could easily have been avoided. The Float­ing on Air exhibit had been in use for a number of years, yet the gap had not been fixed. The health and safety of members of the public, especially children, who use interactive exhibits in museums is very important.

"It's important that councils, like any other organisations, must have systems and proce­dures in place to ensure that the safety of members of the public is not put at risk by their activities."


Glass company fined for workers' fall risk

Total fine £10,000

A glass company has been prosecuted for health and safety offences after putting workers' lives at risk at a site in Bradford.

Workers at Intercity Glazing Systems Ltd, based in Drighlington, had been made to work at height without a safe system in place, leaving them at risk of falling up to 6m.

During work at a building in Carlisle Road, Bradford, in May 2009, the HSE found that the company did not properly supervise or manage staff working at height.

Some equipment, including tower scaffolding, was not being used safely, and guardrails were also missing from some parts of the working area. The system of work used by the company to install glass above the ground floor was so unsafe that the work was stopped when HSE served Prohibition Notices on the company.

Intercity Glazing Systems pleaded guilty at Bradford Magistrates' Court to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,538.


Firm fined after worker burned

Total fines £10,000

A company has today been fined £10,000 after a worker received 60 per cent burns follow­ing an explosion at a Nottingham factory.

The 33-year-old welder from llkeston, who has asked not to be named,was working for Fluo­rocarbon Bakeware Systems Ltd, which manufactures industrial bakeware, on 16 December

2008 at its unit in Beeston.

Nottingham Magistrates Court heard that the worker was cutting metal, when a spark ignit­ed vapours from a nearby can of thinner. The can exploded, showering him with hot liquid.

The HSE brought the prosecution against Fluorocarbon Bakeware Systems, found that al­though flammable liquids were stored correctly in other parts of the site, there was no provision for the storage of the thinners in this area and that no risk assessment had been carried out.

HSE inspector Sian Tiernan said:

"This incident was entirely preventable had simple precautions been taken. This must have been a terrifying incident for the worker, and it was only by chance that his colleague had left the work area a few moments earlier otherwise he too could have been injured. HSE's investigation showed that there was little in the way of direct supervision of the work and no risk assessment was undertaken for the activities carried out in the workshop. Thinner is highly flammable and a risk assessment should have shown how it should have been stored safety. No appropriate store was provided for the thinners and the designated storage area was too close to the work area, with terrible results."

Fluorocarbon Bakeware Systems Ltd of Caxton Hill, Hertford, pleaded guilty to contravening regulations 5(1) and 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regula­tions 2002 and was fined £10,000 at Nottingham Magistrates' Court. It was also ordered to pay costs of £5,227.

Ed - Regulation 5(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 states: "Where a dangerous substance is or is liable to be present at the workplace, the employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to his employees which arise from that substance".

Regulation 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 states: "Every employer shall ensure that risk is either eliminated or reduced so far as is rea­sonably practicable".


Concrete firm fined after worker's roof plunge

Total fine £10,000

A Hounslow company has been fined after a man was injured after falling more than 4m from a roof he was working on.

Alfie Deville 59, from Petworth Gardens, Uxbridge, was injured when he and three other men were dismantling a large steel framed building on 30 April 2009.

Two of the men went onto the roof to unscrew panels before removing them. The court heard the men were provided with a cherry picker, which would have enabled them to carry out the work without stepping onto the roof but they left the basket of the cherry picker.

Mr Deville stepped on a panel he had previously unscrewed but not removed. The panel gave way and Mr Deville fell to the ground below.

He fell more than 4m suffering a broken collarbone, six fractured ribs and a head wound requiring seven stitches.

A HSE investigation showed Master Concrete had failed to properly plan the work and iden­tify or address any hazards associated with the dismantling of the building.

The court heard the workers involved in the dismantling had no training or experience of this type of work.

After the incident a prohibition notice was served preventing further dismantling of the building until the work was properly planned and carried out by competent persons. How­ever, this was ignored and the building was subsequently demolished by untrained employ­ees.

HSE prosecuted Master Concrete Limited of Bedfont Trading Estate, Feltham for its role in the incident. The company was found guilty to breaching s2(1) HSWA at the City of Lon­don Magistrates' Court, on 18 May 2010. It was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £18,923.25.

HSE Inspector Loraine Charles said:

"If the work had been properly planned and carried out by workers who were competent to do it, then this needless injury could have been avoided.

"Master Concrete Limited had a responsibility to ensure that there was a safe system of work in place for the dismantling of this structure, which it did not fulfil, and as a result Alfie Deville sustained a serious injury."


Thrown from a fairground ride

Total fines £10,000

The owner of a faulty fairground ride and an inspector who declared it safe have both been fined following an incident during the British Grand Prix weekend.

The court heard that two people were thrown from the 'Tagada' fairground ride at Silver­stone, in Buckinghamshire, on the day of the 2008 British Grand Prix, when the seating col­lapsed.

Michael Searle, from South Ockendon in Essex, who owned the ride, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) HSWA. He was fined £3,000 and was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs at Aylesbury Crown Court.

The director of Fairground Inspection Services Ltd, Michael Rodgers, of Pymm Leys Lane, Groby in Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) HSWA. He was fined £3,000 with £2,000 costs.

His company, which is registered at Plot 10, Five Counties Caravan Park, Stretton Road, in Leicestershire, pleaded guilty to the same offence and was fined £7,000 fine with £2,000 costs.

The Tagada is a ground-level spinning machine that bounces its riders as it turns. The court heard that on 6 July 2008 two members of the public were thrown off as it spun at speed. Both suffered back injuries and bruising but have since recovered.

An investigation by the HSE found that the ride failed due to corroded structural steel work on the seating. The corrosion was significant and clear to see, and should have been identi­fied by the ride owner, Mr Searle, and during an inspection visit by Mr Rodgers.

HSE Inspector, Karl Howes, said:

"Fairground rides should be exciting but safe. Everyone on this ride faced a real risk, because the owner and inspector failed to comply with the law. The two injured men were fortunate because they could easily have suffered more serious injuries. It is the responsibility of those who operate or inspect fairground rides to ensure they carry out their duties thoroughly by identifying and repairing corrosion and wear on the equipment. This incident should remind all ride operators and ride examiners that public safety on fairground rides is of paramount importance."


Worker's clothing set alight in electrical explosion

Total fines £9,000

George Forbes, 62, of Nigg, Aberdeen, was working for Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) Ltd refurbishing flats on Holburn Street in the city on 11 November 2008 when he attempted to move a redundant electricity power supply, known as a fuse cut-out, because he needed to fit new plasterboard behind it.

Unknown to Mr Forbes, the fuse cut-out was still live and connected to a 415 volt cable when he touched it. The HSE investigation revealed that the cable was twisted, causing a short-circuit that created enough energy to melt the cable and create a small explosion. The firm was fined £9,000 and ordered to pay Mr Forbes £4,000.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that Mr Forbes suffered burns to his face and his left hand. Whilst he recovered and returned to work a few weeks later, he was extremely lucky not to have been electrocuted.

Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) Ltd, of Sugarhouse Lane, Aberdeen, pleaded guilty to failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work for employees working on or near an electrical system, breaching Section 2(1) HSWA.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Liz Standen said:

"It's lucky Mr Forbes was not electrocuted or more seriously hurt when the 415 volt cable blew up in his face in what was an entirely avoidable incident.

"Graeme W Cheyne (Builders) Ltd, should have checked that all redundant electrical services on the property had been proven to be dead by a competent person before working on or near them.  It is extremely dangerous to make assumptions that electrical equipment is safe to work with."


Chicken firm fined after worker skins hand

Total fines £8,000

A chicken company has been prosecuted after a worker using a carcass 'de-skinning' ma­chine tore the skin off the back of his own hand.

The employee was using the machine to skin chickens when his glove became caught and his hand was pulled onto the cutting blade.

The de-skinning machine the worker was using

Thetford Magistrates' Court heard today that the skin on the back of his hand, from his knuckles to his wrist, was torn completely away from the underlying tissue in the incident on 24 July 2009.

Crown Chicken Ltd, which processes 365,000 chickens a week at its site on the Norfolk/Suf­folk border, pleaded guilty to four breaches of health and safety law, including a separate incident where a second worker's hand was crushed.

An investigation by the HSE into the first incident found the machine did not have adequate guards, there was no emergency stop button, and the gloves were not suitably protective.

Five months later, on 7 December 2009, another employee severed a finger when his hand was crushed by the lifting mechanism of a forklift truck when he was standing on the forks to access the back of a trailer.

HSE and manufacturer guidance warns it is unsafe to stand on the forks of a forklift truck but the company had not provided a safe way for workers to access the back of the trailers.

HSE inspector, Saffron Turnell, said:

"These two incidents resulted in very serious and painful injuries to both men. What is more,

both could easily have been avoided if Crown Chicken had taken the correct health and safety precautions.

"The company failed to ensure that simple measures were in place to protect employees us­ing the de-skinning machine. Similarly, the company had no safe method for staff to access the refrigerated trailers.

"Employers must ensure that appropriate health and safety measures are in place and that appropriate equipment is used. HSE will not hesitate to take action against employers failing to comply with the law and putting workers at risk."

Crown Chicken Ltd, of Crown Farm, Weybread, Diss, admitted two breaches of Section 2(1) HSWA. Magistrates fined the firm £4,000 for each charge (total £8,000) and ordered it to pay £5,500 in costs.


Dangerously faulty play equipment leads to prosecution

Penalty: Suspended prison sentence

A Prestatyn man has been given an 18 week suspended prison sentence and 60 hours of community service after ignoring a legal order preventing him from issuing safety certifi­cates for inflatable amusements.

The HSE served a prohibition notice on Peter John Morrell (also known as Peter Michael Coltilda) of Aberconwy Road in November 2008 after an investigation revealed he had passed inflatables as safe to use when they were not. He had previously pleaded guilty to three separate offences last year and was given conditional discharges by the court.

He was ordered to stop inspecting play equipment and issuing safety certificates. But less than a month after the Notice was issued, it emerged that he had ignored the ban and ille­gally issued a certificate after a colleague carried out an inspection on an inflatable at Wel­lington Civic & Leisure Centre, Telford, despite there being a safety defect with the blower.

Mr Morrell tried to inspect the inflatable again six months later, but the centre turned him away.

At Shrewsbury Crown Court today, Mr Morrell pleaded guilty to breaching Section 33(1)(g) HSWA. He was given an 18 week suspended prison sentence, ordered to carry out 60 hours of community service and ordered to pay £500 towards costs.

HSE inspector Janice Dale said:

"By continuing to take money for issuing safety certificates, Mr Morrell not only cheated the companies he issued the certificates for, but also risked the wellbeing of the young children using the inflatable and its blower.

"The reason that an initial prohibition notice was put in place was that his work was sub­standard and unsafe.

"For him to then breach that prohibition notice within weeks of it being put in place - and on the same day he met HSE who made it clear that he had not yet complied - shows he has ut­ter disregard for the law and for other people's safety."

Mr Morrell has recently changed his name by deed poll to Peter Michael Coltilda.


Plumber given suspended sentence

Penalty: Suspended sentence

A plumber has been given a suspended jail sentence after endangering the lives of Norwich homeowners

Frank Davey, 81 of Breckland Road, New Costessey, pleaded guilty at Norwich Magistrates' Court to breaching health and safety laws.

Magistrates imposed a three month jail sentence on Mr Davey, suspended for two years, and also banned him from working with electricity or gas for two years.

An HSE investigation found that Mr Davey carried out gas work and fitted new gas boilers at three houses in The Columbine, Mountfield Avenue and Stylman Road, all in Norwich, be­tween 1 April and 30 November 2009.

Mr Davey was not registered with the Gas Safe Register - a legal requirement for anyone carrying out such work. An inspection at each of the properties revealed his work was de­fective and dangerous. At one address a gas leak was discovered and had to be made safe.

Mr Davey admitted breaching Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regula­tions 1998 and Section 3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was also or­dered to pay £1,000 in costs.


Other health and safety offences in brief






A R Patel & C A Patel

Gas Safety (In­stallation and Use) Regula­tions 1998 regs 3(1), 3(3) and 36(3)

Total £6,000 + £1,800 costs


Replacing gas boiler when not competent or Gas Safe registered.

Failure to provide landlord's certificate

WCM Europe Limited

S2(1) HSWA

£6,000 + £2,741 costs

Circular saw injury caused by missing guard

Sirane Limited


£6,000 + £2,083 costs

2 fingers amputated by automatic guillotine

Lambert Engi­neering Limited

S2(1) HSWA

£6,000 + £4,198 costs

Failure to use protective guards on machinery

Nuneaton and Bedworth Bor­ough Council

Reg 4(9)(c), & 11 CoAR 2006

£5,000 + £2,140 costs

Worker sent to repair leak without being told about presence of aib - which he cut with a saw.


Viewline North­west Limited

Reg6(3) Work at Height Regs 2005

£5,000 + £2,274 costs

Working at height without edge protection/guard rails


M McKernan

Reg6(3), reg 10(3) Work at Height Regs 2005

£2,000 + £2,000 costs

Working at height without edge protection/guard rails


Maplestead Lim­ited

S2(1) HSWA

£1,000 + £2,000 costs

Hand injury caused un­guarded spindle moulder




Environment Agency prosecutions

Swimming pool company fined after polluting river

Total fines £66,000

Biolab (UK) Limited, one of the UK's leading water and swimming pool chemical treatment companies, whose careless operational practices led to a major incident and decimated the entire fish population along an eight mile stretch of the River Coln, has been penalised £146,000.

Biolab (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to take all measures necessary to prevent a major accident, and to limit the consequences of such an accident, and causing pollution to the River Coln.

Gloucester Crown Court heard that the incident caused a large quantity of toxic chemicals to spill into the River Coln in Andoversford, Gloucestershire, killing over 2,500 fish and caus­ing major damage to the surrounding environment. The impact of the pollution was so severe it was estimated at the time that it would take years for the river to recover. The lat­est fish survey by the Environment Agency shows that fish stocks are getting healthier, but remain lower than pre incident levels in some locations.

On 4 September 2006 a large fire broke out at a unit in the Andoversford Industrial Estate, operated by Biolab, causing a large amount of chemicals such as chlorine to escape into the River Coln via the surface water drainage system. The fire destroyed the factory and the po­tent cocktail of chemicals caused a series of catastrophic explosions. This resulted in a huge chlorine based smoke plume extending for miles, which Thames Valley Police pilots could smell and see as far as Banbury, some 30 miles away in Oxfordshire. The A40 was closed for 24 hours, the entire industrial site was evacuated and several businesses in the area were closed for more than three days. A local resident who inhaled the smoke later claimed to have suffered from breathing difficulties. However, the Health Protection Agency stated that there would be no long term risks to public health.

Due to the severity of the incident a multi-agency response was launched involving; the En­vironment Agency, the Health Protection Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, Glouces­tershire Fire and Rescue Service, Gloucestershire Police, Cotswold District Council, Thames Water and Thames Valley Police. The scale of the pollution and damage was so large, the incident also required notification to the European Commission.

The pollution spread downstream for nearly eight miles and had a severe environmental im­pact, killing thousands of fish in its path, including the protected brown trout, as well as eel, salmon, roach, carp, bull head and lamprey populations. Prior to the incident, the River Coln was one of the best quality watercourses in Gloucestershire, and supported a vast amount of mature species of a high grade. A large number of water snails were found popped out of their shells due to the toxic mix of chemicals.

The court heard the major accident was a result of Biolab's failure to take all measures necessary to prevent this scale of incident and failing to limit the consequences of the spill. Biolab failed to have an adequate 'Major Accident Prevention Policy' and emergency plan in place, and to ensure its staff were adequately supported. Some of the consequences of the incident could have been avoided if Biolab had revised their plans as obligated by the regu­lations.

Environment Agency officers who investigated the incident found evidence that suggested that there were a number of steps the company should have taken to avoid and control the incident. These included having the correct infrastructure on site to capture any escaping chemicals and ensuring that the correct procedures were in place to manage such an inci­dent. Biolab also failed to hold the most recent copies of appropriate drainage plans. This meant the Environment Agency and other responders were unable to determine all path­ways of the pollution through the drainage system, allowing chemicals to continue discharg­ing for more than 24 hours after the initial spill.

The Environment Agency and HSE advised Biolab on how they could meet their obligations but the company failed to act as the business expanded. And despite company communica­tions, Biolab (UK) Ltd also failed to learn important lessons following a similar incident at the US parent company's factory near Atlanta, USA. Biolab(UK)'s ultimate controlling company is the US company, Chemtura Corporation. A fire at the factory of Chemtura subsidiary, Biolab Inc's, near Conyers, Georgia led to the pollution of local lakes and a number of compensa­tion claims in 2004.

Matt Carter, area manager at the Environment Agency, said: "Biolab (UK) Limited failed in their obligations by not continually assessing the risks their business posed to the environ­ment. The impact of this incident would have been reduced if Biolab had taken reasonable steps to control run-off from the site and had better accident plans in place.

"We are pleased that the court has recognised the gravity of this incident, and hope this will serve as a stark reminder to those companies who handle hazardous materials to make sure they have appropriate procedures in place to better protect their local environment and community, otherwise the consequences can be devastating.

The company was fined £66,000, a discount of one third for a guilty plea, £80,000 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.


Company fined for Heathrow groundwater pollution

Total fines £40,000

A London company responsible for supplying jet fuel at Heathrow Airport was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay the Environment Agency in excess of £14,000 for its costs, after severely polluting groundwater beneath the airport, with at least 139,000 litres of Jet A-1 aviation fuel.

Heathrow Hydrant Operating Company Limited (HHOpCo), of 8 York Road, London SE1 had pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates' Court in June this year to causing polluting matter to enter the Taplow Gravels groundwater, contrary to section 85 (1) and (6) of the Water Re­sources Act 1991. The case had been committed to Isleworth Crown Court for sentence.

The court heard that on 29 November 2007 HHOpCo informed the Environment Agency of a leak in the fuel supply pipeline to aircraft stands at Heathrow's Terminal One building. The leak was discovered by HHOpCo nine days earlier following an unrelated report from BAA about a report of jet fuel odour in a nearby access tunnel. Without this unrelated report, it is not known how long the leak would have continued to go undetected for. HHOpCo con­ducted an overnight pressure test on the hydrant system and confirmed the leak, but failed to notify the Environment Agency immediately.

On further investigation HHOpCo staff identified a valve chamber full of approximately 8,000 litres of aviation fuel. Once the valve chamber was emptied, fuel was seen leaking out of one of the attachments on the hydrant. Two bolts on the attachment were so badly cor­roded that they had caused the leak, which was estimated at the time of discovery to flow at 10 litres of fuel per minute. A later estimate corrected the leak to 7 litres per minute. It is not known how long the leak had been going on for or the total volume of fuel lost.

All bolts and valves on that section of pipeline were subsequently replaced to stop the leak. The section was pressure tested and returned to normal operation the following morning. The chamber in question has now been decommissioned.

HHOpCo attended an interview under caution at the Environment Agency office on the 12 March 2009. The company admitted during the interview that a £7 million automated leak detection system had been malfunctioning at the time and had not detected the leak. This was also indicated in HHOpCo's investigation report, which revealed that the leak detec­tion system was not working for at least five months prior to the Environment Agency being notified of the incident. The company did not put a manual testing system in place despite knowing that the automated system was not working properly.

It quickly became clear that jet fuel had been leaking for some time. A specialist remedia­tion company sank boreholes to recover fuel and remediate the affected area. As at June 2010 139,391 litres have been recovered and is still being recovered at a rate of 80-100 litres per week. The cost of remediation to date is approximately £1 million.

Mohammed Jama, the Environment Agency's lead officer on the case, said: "Heathrow Hydrant Operating Company's carelessness has led to the extensive pollution of groundwa­ter. Fortunately, to date, we have not seen any major impact to local rivers but jet fuel in groundwater has the potential to seriously harm the environment and water quality. The fine issued reflects the serious effect that HHOpCo's failures have had on the Taplow Gravels.

"Once groundwater becomes polluted it is very difficult to clean up. We hope that the fine issued will act as a prompt to HHOpCo and similar companies, reminding them of the impor­tance of compliance and making sure that their actions do not cause harm to or damage the environment. "

HHOpCo's contractors have been in charge of remediation and monitoring of the fuel plume and continue to provide updates to the Environment Agency.


Waste company given steep penalty for permit breach

Total fines £8,000

A waste company has been ordered to pay a total of £36,001 by magistrates after pleading guilty to breaching the conditions of its permit to run a Berkshire landfill site.

Grundon Waste Management Ltd operates the landfill site at a disused quarry at Star Lane, Knowle Hill, which takes around 60,000 tonnes of biodegradable commercial and industrial waste annually.

Bracknell Magistrates' Court heard that such sites can only operate legally if licensed by the Environment Agency.

Because of the nature of the site and its potential for harm to the environment, the Environ­ment Agency requires the operator to adhere strictly to the conditions of its permit. Poten­tial problems include polluting the water beneath the site and the risk of an explosion or a contribution to odours and green house gas emissions.

Waste arriving on the site is placed in layers to fill 'cells' which are specially engineered to minimise the impact on the environment.

One of the conditions of the waste permit is a stability risk assessment, which stipulates the steepness of slopes of cells which are being filled. If a cell is built too steeply then there is a risk the material behind the slope could cause the slope to collapse.

On this occasion Cell 5, in which work was started on in 2003, was built at a significantly steeper angle than the angle given in the slope stability documents submitted to the Envi­ronment Agency to gain the permit. The court found it was approximately one third steeper.

It appears Grundon Waste Management Ltd did not realise that it was being built at a steep­er angle and certainly did not bring it to the attention of the Environment Agency.

On 13 June 2007, when Cell 5 was nearing completion, Grundon Waste Management Ltd workers noticed cracks in the waste slope and near the top. These problems were immedi­ately brought to the attention of Environment Agency officers who visited the site later the same day.  Between the closure of the site at the end of that working day, and its opening the next day, Cell 5 suffered a slope failure, causing thousands of tonnes of waste on the side slope to slip with the collapsed wall, moving out more than 30 metres. Both the wall and waste contents of Cell 5 were displaced and exposed and the structure of the other cells affected.

Although investigated, the Environment Agency could not establish that in this case the ac­tual cause of the slope failure was because Grundon Waste Management Ltd built the slope at too steep an angle. However, Sailesh Mehta, for the prosecution, told the court that this is the sort of accident that the conditions of the permit are designed to prevent and demon­strates the importance of them.

Even though Grundon Waste Management Ltd remediated the slip, this took nearly two years and during that time there was an increased potential for problems such as gas emis­sions and odours owing to an increased operational area, as they had to tip the whole foot­print of the site to support the remaining waste in Cell 5.

It also took more than a year to prepare the site for the installation of additional infrastruc­ture to minimise emissions.

The number of odour complaints from neighbouring residents peaked after the slope fail­ure. Grundon Waste Management Ltd has now installed a number of measures including temporary capping, additional gas boreholes and a new flare to ensure the impact from the site is minimised and have changed their management systems to prevent a repeat of prob­lems on the site.

Environment officer Chris Mitchell said: "Not managing large landfill sites such as these properly, by ensuring that permit conditions are all being met, can cause damage to the environment and acute problems for people living nearby. Observing these conditions is extremely important.

"I'm pleased that the court has recognised the seriousness of this case and we hope that companies such as Grundon Waste Management Ltd will be able to learn important lessons from it in the future."

Grundon Waste Management Ltd was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £27,986. It also had to pay a £15 victim surcharge.



Frozen dessert company fined for packaging offences

Total fines £20,000

A manufacturer of frozen desserts and cakes was ordered to pay £26,615.00 on 3 Septem­ber 2010 after failing to register as a producer of packaging waste, and recover and recycle packaging waste.

Rensow Patisserie Limited of Bridgeway House, Upper Icknield Way, Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23 4JX pleaded guilty at Watford Magistrates' Court to failing to register with the Environ­ment Agency or a compliance scheme as a producer of packaging waste, and failing to meet its requirements to recover and recycle packaging waste between 2003 and 2008.

The company was fined £20,000, and was ordered to pay £2,593 in costs to the Environ­ment Agency. The company was also ordered to pay compensation of £4,022 to the Agency for unpaid registration fees for the years 2003 to 2008 inclusive.

Rensow Patisserie Limited admitted that it failed to register with the Environment Agency or a compliance scheme and provide evidence that it recovered and recycled the packaging waste it handled, including paper, glass, plastic and ceramic packaging.

The Environment Agency contacted the company as part of its routine monitoring of non-regulated sites requesting information about the packaging material it handled. The infor­mation provided showed that the company should be registered as a producer of packaging waste as it met both thresholds by handing more than 50 tonnes of packaging per year, with an annual turnover of more than £2 million.

By not registering with the Environment Agency or a compliance scheme, it was estimated that Rensow Patisserie Limited made a saving of approximately £22,7426.26.

A director of Rensow Patisserie Limited attended an interview under caution on 10 Decem­ber 2008, and confirmed that the company exceeded the thresholds for turnover and ton­nage.

Environment officer Helen Pavlou said: "The regulations are in place to encourage a reduc­tion in the amount of packaging used by businesses and to decrease the disposal of waste to landfill. Although these regulations have been in force since 1997 many businesses still ignore or remain unaware of their responsibilities. We hope this case will highlight the need for other businesses to consider whether they are obligated under the Packaging Regula­tions." The money that Rensow Patisserie Ltd has saved by not purchasing packaging recovery notes would have directly supported the recycling industry."

Ed - The Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations were originally implement­ed in 1997 as a result of the EU Packaging Directive. The regulations are designed to make companies assess the amount of packaging they use and, where possible, limit the amount used. For the packaging remaining, companies have a responsibility to invest in the recycling industry.

The amount of recovery and recycling is dependent on the type of activity the company per­forms on the packaging and the tonnage handled. As the majority of companies are unable to take back their packaging, a system was set up whereby they purchase Packaging Recov­ery Notes (PRNs) or Packaging Export Recovery Notes (PERNs) to the value of their obliga­tion. The money from these PRNs/PERNs is used by the reprocessors of the packaging to improve the efficiency of their process, to expand their facilities, and assist with the funding of domestic recycling schemes, etc.

Under the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, busi­nesses that have an annual turnover in excess of £2 million and handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging each year must be registered with the Environment Agency or a compliance scheme. Each year, obligated businesses must also provide evidence of payment for the recovery and recycling of packaging waste to offset the packaging they send out with their products that will eventually become waste.

The regulations make businesses take responsibility for the packaging waste they produce by making them pay towards overall recovery and recycling costs. This should lead to a re­duction in packaging, greater recycling and recovery and a decrease in the amount of pack­aging that ends up in landfill sites.


Company boss fined for failing to remove stockpile of waste

Total fines £10,000

South Devon businessman Anthony Small has been ordered to pay £13,500 in fines and costs for failing to remove thousands of tonnes of waste from a site near Newton Abbot

The offence occurred at Ruby Farm, Abbotskerswell where Anthony Small was co-director of Ruby Waste Management Ltd. The company operated a waste transfer station and recycling facility at the site that had previously been a landfill. At its height, Ruby Farm was one of the biggest waste transfer stations in the area handling around 45,000 tonnes of waste a year.

A waste transfer station sorts mixed waste into different types which are then re-cycled or sent to landfill. Inert and non-hazardous waste is shredded and sieved. The resulting waste material is known as 'fines'. This process reduces bulk and makes it easier for operators to dispose of waste at landfill.

The Environment Agency served a notice on Ruby Waste Management Ltd requiring the company to remove a large pile of illegally deposited 'fines' from an adjacent field by August 1, 2008. These fines had been causing water pollution and odour problems.

The Environment Agency contacted Anthony Small who said disposal of the waste fines was under way and that they were being removed to the landfill site at Heathfield. However, when Agency officers returned to Ruby Farm they discovered that instead of being legally disposed of, the fines had simply been moved to the waste transfer station.

A volumetric survey of waste stored on the transfer station showed there were 6,490 cubic metres of waste fines being stored at the site on August 1, 2008. This was more than 20 times above the permitted limit.

'The amount of material stored at Ruby Farm grossly exceeded what was allowed under the permit for this site and had the potential to cause further pollution. The defendant had ample opportunity to remove and safely dispose of this waste, but chose to ignore the advice he received and exhibited an obstructive and dismissive attitude towards authorities. We were left with no choice other than to prosecute', said Richard Cloke for the Environ­ment Agency.

Appearing at Exeter Crown Court this week (September 6), Anthony Small of St Mary's Park, Collaton St Mary, Stoke Gabriel, Devon was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,500 costs after pleading guilty to, between July 30 and August 8, 2008, storing more than 700 tonnes of controlled waste at Ruby Farm contrary to Regulation 41 (1)(a) of the Environmental Per­mitting Regulations.

Ruby Waste Management Lt went into liquidation and ceased trading in 2009.


Barratt Homes fined for polluting stream with sewage

Total fines £10,000

Barratt Homes have been ordered to pay more than £13,400 in fines and costs after sewage escaped from a housing development and polluted a stream close to the Tamar Valley

On September 2, 2009 a member of the public reported to the Agency that a stream run­ning through their garden was discoloured and smelt of sewage. An officer visited the prop­erty and saw sewage fungus growing on the bed of a stream that flows into a tributary of the River Tamar.

The pollution was later traced to a housing development at Calcos Place, Station Road, Kelly Bray near Callington where Barratt Homes had built 84 new homes. Sewage from the prop­erties is stored in holding tanks before being pumped to a South West Water gravity sewer prior to treatment.

Agency officers could smell sewage and saw liquid seeping out of a bank beside the sewage tanks and pumping station when they arrived at the site to carry out an inspection. Checks by the Environment Agency showed the new development's pumping station had failed causing sewage to overflow from a collection chamber onto the ground and into a nearby stream.

When Barratt Homes were interviewed, it became apparent the pollution resulted from a misunderstanding between the defendant company and a third party that took over the maintenance and monitoring of the pumping station in July 2009. When the pollution oc­curred, telemetry required for the monitoring was not in place.

It was unclear who was responsible for the monitoring of the pumping station until such time as the telemetry was installed. The absence of any monitoring meant nobody knew there had been a mechanical failure and that sewage was spilling out of the pumping sta­tion and polluting a stream.

'We estimate sewage escaped intermittently for at least two weeks. This would have had a serious effect on water quality in the stream. It was avoidable and resulted through a lack proper monitoring,' said Louise Weller for the Environment Agency.

'Barratt Homes are a national house builder. They are well aware of the potential impact their activities can have on watercourses. In this case, the failure to ensure an adequate sys­tem of monitoring was in place resulted in a stream being polluted,' said Louise Weller.

Barratt Homes (Exeter Division) was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,448 costs by Bod­min magistrates after pleading guilty to causing noxious or polluting matter to enter con­trolled waters between August 31, 2009 and September 11, 2009 contrary to Section 85(1) and 85(6) of the Water Resources Act 1991. The case was heard on September 7.


Haulage contractor fined for waste offences

Total fines £3,000

A North Devon haulier has been ordered to pay £13,000 in fines and costs for illegally de­positing and storing waste at sites in and around Ilfracombe. The case was brought by the Environment Agency.

On April 17, 2008 an Agency officer visited the Old Gasworks Yard, Hele Bay, Ilfracombe and saw piles of waste including scrap metal, wood, stone, fridges and crushed cars. The site op­erator, Paul Crabb, was told he could not deposit waste at the site without an environmental permit. He was issued with a formal written warning.

On February 17, 2009 a large pile of waste rubble and bricks was found at Lee Meadow Farm, formally known as Carrick Farm, Shaftesbury Lane, Ilfracombe. It had been left by Paul Crabb's haulage business. The defendant was asked to provide waste transfer notes for the waste deposited at this site. He failed to respond.

On June 1, 2009 an Agency officer returned to the Old Gasworks Yard to speak to Paul Crabb. Despite the earlier warning, new wastes including plastics, polystyrene, treated wood, plasterboard, fibreglass insulation, guttering, bituminous roofing felt and cement packaging was at the site.

The court heard the defendant's haulage yard lacked the necessary facilities to ensure its waste operations didn't cause pollution or excessive noise dust or smells and did not have a permit for the activities.

The Environment Agency also discovered that a 'substantial amount' of waste hardcore had been taken to Honeycleave Farm, Mullacott. Although this site had permission to use waste hardcore for construction purposes, the deposits were not recorded in accordance with the regulations.

'The defendant chose to ignore the Agency's advice and operate illegally despite repeated warnings and left the Agency no option but to prosecute him. His customers had a duty of care to ensure that their waste was dealt with properly and he put them at risk of enforce­ment action by his behaviour. His decision not to use Waste Transfer notes makes it impossi­ble for us to trace where some of these wastes, including those containing hazardous sub­stances, ended up and whether they were dealt with properly. We would urge the public and companies to take care with their waste and to contact the Agency for free advice if they are not sure that it is being dealt with correctly, ' said Sean McKay for the Environment Agency.

Appearing before Exeter Crown Court, Paul Crabb, of Claremont House, Lawn Place, Ilfra­combe, Devon was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs after pleading guilty to five offences including depositing and keeping controlled waste without an environmental permit, failing to produce waste transfer notes and failing his duty of care as a transporter of waste. These are offences under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and Environmen­tal Permitting Regulations 2007.


First UK prosecution for WEEE producer

Total fines £20,150

Hairdressing supplies wholesaler Aston and Fincher Ltd of Pavilion Drive, Birmingham has pleaded guilty to 31 charges relating to failure to comply with packaging waste regulations and failing to register as a producer of electrical and electronic waste

By failing to comply with the packaging regulations, the company avoided paying approxi­mately £10,900. By failing to comply with the Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive, the company avoided paying £445 plus unknown costs of financing the recovery and recycling of waste equipment for which they would have been responsible in 2008. This gave them an unfair competitive advantage compared to those businesses that have com­plied with legislation.

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Producer Responsibility legislation. Aston and Fincher Ltd was fined £650 for each offence (a total of £20,150). It was also ordered to pay compensation of £7,135 to the Environment Agency for loss of reg­istration fees, costs of £3,605.11 and a victim surcharge of £15.

For the Environment Agency, Jill Crawford told the court that Aston and Fincher is a whole­saler of hairdressing supplies and sundries, operating from 26 warehouse sites in the UK.

Producer Responsibility for packaging and WEEE exists to ensure that businesses take on responsibility for recovering and recycling a proportion of waste electrical products and packaging waste. The packaging regulations have been in force since 1997 and have con­tributed to the doubling of the amount of packaging waste recycled in the UK, which is now 60%. This equates to 6.6 million tonnes of packaging waste being diverted from landfill into recycling each year.

The regulations demand that companies who handle packaging as manufacturers, pack fill­ers, sellers, importers or leasing companies are registered each year and provide evidence that they have recycled packaging.

The Environment Agency investigations found that Aston and Fincher Ltd had committed of­fences in each year from 2001 to 2008.

The company also imported a range of electrical items into the UK, and failed to meet their obligations under the WEEE Regulations. This legislation came into force in 2007, and this is the first case of prosecution of a producer of electrical equipment under these regulations.

The offences were discovered as a result of routine investigation work by the Environment Agency. The company admitted all the offences put to them.

Speaking after the case Hannah Wooldridge, an Environment Agency officer leading in the investigation, said: "this is the first prosecution of a business for offences under both the packaging regulations and the similar producer responsibility legislation for electrical equip­ment. It should send a strong message out to all companies who do have producer respon­sibility obligations to ensure that they comply with the legal requirements placed on them. We will continue to enforce these regulations, using our resources to target high risk areas. These regulations do not set out to criminalise companies who don't comply; they are about making all producers responsible for their impact on the environment, and helping them to reduce it wherever possible.

"These regulations can help companies focus on wasteful practices, which can result in sig­nificant cost savings. We have seen numerous examples where companies have rethought their packaging requirements and as a result reduced their packaging obligations.

"While registering would have cost less than £11,000 for the years concerned, their appear­ance in court has cost them well over £30,000. This case demonstrates that flouting the law does not pay.

"We will continue to work with responsible businesses to reduce the amounts of packaging and electrical waste ending up in landfills, but we will also work hard to seek out and pros­ecute companies who fail to meet their obligations. We've run a number of seminars and also a radio campaign across the Midlands highlighting the WEEE regulations and their re­quirements to assist companies in understanding producer responsibility and how it affects them.

"Companies who don't comply with the regulations unfairly exploit those that do and we want to help businesses operate on a level playing field, particularly in these difficult eco­nomic times. Legal compliance including environmental regulation should be high on the agenda for company management, and this company have paid a heavy price for failing to recognise this'.

In mitigation, the company secretary, David Winnington, said that it was not a deliberate intention to evade the regulations. The company was simply not aware of them. They are now fully compliant with both regulations and they pleaded guilty at the first available op­portunity.


North East haulage firm fined £10,000 over beck pollution

Total fines £10,000

A haulage company has been fined a total of £10,000 after a toxic chemical leaked from one of its lorries and turned the water in a beck blue.

At Darlington Magistrates' Court Nicholsons Transport Limited ("Nicholsons") and driver Nigel John Draper each pleaded guilty to a charge of causing a wood preservative to enter a tributary of Shotton Beck at Sedgefield, County Durham, in June last year.

The company, of Burnside House, ICI West Gate, Chilton's Avenue, Billingham, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay Environment Agency costs of £1,875. Draper, 43, of Pear Tree House, Newbiggin, Richmond, North Yorkshire, drove the lorry at the time of the incident and was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £330.

Trevor Cooper, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, said the spill happened on 19 June 2009 at the roundabout between the A177 and the A689 near Sedgefield, next to a Little Chef restaurant.

Environment officers were alerted by the fire service and viewed CCTV footage from the Little Chef, which showed the liquid had come from a curtain-sided truck.

Police traced the vehicle to Nicholsons and discovered that Draper had been driving it that morning. The lorry was carrying a bulk container with about 1,000 litres of liquid wood pre­servative inside.

Mr Cooper said the container had become punctured and liquid escaped.

Environment officers described seeing a "large amount" of dark blue liquid along the kerb­side for up to 70m and there were also stains on the grass verge.

The court heard the liquid ran into roadside drains and from there entered a tributary of Shotton Beck. An 80-metre stretch of the watercourse beyond the A177 also was dark blue in colour.

Environment officers identified the liquid as Wolmanit CX 8, an alkaline which is used to treat wood and is toxic to aquatic life, however the court heard that no fish were killed in this incident.

Safety advice to carriers states the chemical is corrosive, dangerous for the environment, and should not be discharged into drains or soil.

They took samples from the watercourse and found hazardous chemicals were present.

Mr Cooper said the fire service contacted Nicholsons and the company arranged for con­tractors to pump out the polluted water and tanker it away for disposal, at a cost of more than £9,000.

He said the road had to be closed because of the spillage, with potential disruption to local businesses.

When Draper was interviewed, he said he was covering a different route from his usual work and did not know what liquid was in containers on the back of the lorry. He said as he overtook a transit van something sticking out from it caught the side of his lorry, tearing the curtain and puncturing the container.

Draper said he stopped and saw liquid on the verge but could not open the box contain­ing equipment to contain leaks. He had called Nicholsons and was told to use shrink wrap around the hole but could not find any. He then drove back to the company's depot.

During interview, Nicholsons estimated about 700 litres of Wolmanit CX 8 had been lost. The company said Draper was a trained driver but had not mentioned a spillage when he reported damage to the lorry.  Mr Cooper said the failure of either defendant to notify the Environment Agency of the spill was an aggravating feature, as was the lack of action they took to contain the liquid.

The court heard there had been an impact on the watercourse and there had been potential for financial loss to neighbouring businesses because of the road closure.

In mitigation, the magistrates heard that since the incident the company had put in new procedures to be followed by all drivers in the event of a spillage. Once the company, which has a turnover of £2.5 million a year, had become aware of the pollution it arranged for the affected part of the beck to be pumped out by contractors. This was completed on the same day as the incident.

Barrister Mr William Byrne, acting on behalf of Draper, said his client was unaware that his load was hazardous and the spillage had been a "pure accident".

He said Draper had tried his best to contain the spillage, and "had ended up covered in the material." As a result of this incident, he said that his client had been dismissed for gross misconduct .

Neither defendant had a previous record for environmental offences and both had fully co-operated with the Environment Agency investigation.

The bench gave both Nicholsons and Draper credit for early guilty pleas.

Speaking after the court case, environment management team leader for the Environment Agency Andrew Turner said: "This court case shows that everyone is responsible for the protection of the environment. Carriers of potentially harmful chemicals need to be extra vigilant and ensure that the appropriate authorities are notified immediately if there is a spillage."


Car breaker prosecuted for operating without a permit.

Total fines £10,000

A site owner and his tenant, the operator of a car breakers site in Rainham, have been sen­tenced at court after their illegal activities caused at least four fires and allowed car parts to fall in the river close to Rainham Marshes.

Festus Odonowo was given a 12-month community service order and ordered to do unpaid work for 100 hours after he pleaded guilty on 18 August 2010 to three offences:1. Causing the deposit of controlled waste including vehicles and vehicle parts on the land at 2b Ferry Lane South, Rainham when there was no management licence in force 2. Treating the waste without a waste management licence and 3. Operating a regulated facility without an environmental permit.

John Palmer, the owner of the site, pleaded guilty on 20 August 2010 to the offence of knowingly permitting the deposit of controlled waste, namely vehicles and vehicles parts, at the site when there was no waste management licence in force. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £17,000.  Basildon Crown Court heard that Mr Odonowo operated an illegal car breakers yard at the site, where infrastructure was completely inadequate for that type of operation. The ac­tivities on the site posed a significant risk to the local environment and caused a number of fires. Parts and engines, which should have been stored on impermeable surface with adequate drainage, were left on unprepared ground which meant that oil would seep into the earth. Vehicles and car parts were not stored safely and often fell over the site boundary into the local brook.

During an interview under caution, Mr Odonowo said his business involved receiving pollut­ed waste vehicles and breaking them up on site so that some of the parts could be exported to Africa. The oils and coolant were disposed of in the drain outside the site.

Mr Palmer owned part of the site since 16th August 2006, and the rest in 2008, and rented the land to Festus Odonowo who carried out the illegal activities. Mr Palmer was made aware of the illegal activities by the Environment Agency and was present on some of the occasions when the Environment Agency visited the site. He failed to attend an inter­view with the Environment Agency about the site.

Between 2005 and 2008, the Environment Agency served various notices to both Mr Palmer and Mr Odonowo to halt the car breaking activities on the site, to no avail.. The unregulated activities caused severe disruption to neighbouring business especially when the Fire Bri­gade had to be called out to deal with fires at the site. This case was assisted by a co- ordi­nated multi-agency operation in June 2008. The operator has ceased all waste activities at the site. The waste vehicles and car parts have been cleared from the site although a con­siderable amount of tyres still remain on the site. Environmental crime officer, Kim Egbokhan said: "The sentences of the court send a clear message to illegal operators that the courts will not tolerate violations of the environmental regulations..Cars contain liquids which have the potential to harm the environment if they are not disposed of correctly. We issue environmental permits for car breakers so that we can work with them to ensure they operate in a way that won't harm the environment. Sites that do not have environmental permits are a real threat to our environment and human health.

"This site was close to Rainham Marshes nature reserve and so posed a very real threat to the natural environment. The fact that vehicle parts fell into the brook meant that there was also a risk of contamination even further afield, as contaminants could be swept down­stream of the site by the flowing water.

"The fires that occurred on site were further proof of the dangers associated with these sorts of illegal operations."


Wine company fined for waste packaging offences

Total fines £4,500

De Bortoli Wines UK Ltd supply wine to retailers and wholesalers from a premises at Farn­ham near Blandford, Dorset. Wines are imported from a parent company in Australia to a bonded warehouse where it is distributed to customers. The packaging is mainly glass bot­tles and cardboard boxes.

Any business handling more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year with an annual turnover of more than £2 million is required, under the Packaging Regulations, to recover and recycle a percentage of any packaging waste they've produced.

A company must comply with the Regulations by either registering with the Environment Agency or signing up to a Compliance Scheme by April 7 each year and providing data on the tonnage of packaging handled.

The aim of the Packaging Regulations is to encourage businesses to take responsibility for packaging used in their operations and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Businesses are not required to physically recover and recycle the packaging themselves, but pay accredited waste handling organisations to do the recycling on their behalf.

On May 15, 2009 the Environment Agency contacted De Bortoli Wines to ascertain whether the company needed to register. Information supplied by the company showed it was in breach of the Regulations for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007. By not registering it had avoid­ed paying costs and fees estimated at £5,022.

'It is important businesses handling packaging register with the Agency or join a compliance scheme as this helps with recycling and reduces the amount of waste going to landfills,' said Tessa Bowering for the Environment Agency.

De Bortoli Wines UK Ltd was fined a total of £4,500 by Weymouth magistrates on Thurs­day (September 9) after pleading guilty to nine offences under the Producer Responsibility Obligation (Packaging Waste) Regulations including failing to register, failing to recover and recycle packaging waste and failing to furnish a certificate of compliance. The company was also ordered to pay £2,128 costs and compensation of £1,686.


Foamy stream fine

Total fines £8,000

Glentham Farming Company Ltd was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £4,321 at Lincoln Magistrates Court for discharging grossly polluting effluent - a mix of trade effluent, land drainage and yard drainage - into an unnamed tributary of Seggimoor Beck.

Miss Claire Bentley, prosecuting, said the Environment Agency had received a report on 2 March 2010 that a stream on the Bishop Norton Road, south west of Barff Farm, was cov­ered in foam. Officer Helen Woodall traced the pollution to a pipe coming from the farm. There was no other source of water flowing into the stream, which is connected to the Nor­ton Beck and River Ancholme.

On 3 March, Environment Officer James Brackenbury attended the incident and saw a milky-coloured liquid coming from the pipe. Beneath it was a build-up of white foam. He also noted the stream looked as though it had been recently dredged downstream of the pipe.  Miss Bentley said: "He followed the stream downstream into the village and continued to observe discolouration and a foamy scum on the surface of the water. He also observed that the water discharging into Seggimoor Beck from the stream looked grey in comparison to the clearer water of the beck.

"On 19 March, Ms Woodall returned to the discharge pipe and observed that there was a lot of froth and sediment visible in the stream."

A biological survey carried out on 3 March found a large number of dead freshwater worms immediately downstream of the discharge pipe and indicated very poor water quality. The water was blackened, had a strong odour and a extensive build up of foam.

A sample taken 450 metres downstream of the pipe found the water still had foam on the surface and widespread sewage fungus. Sewage fungus is a complex community of fungi, bacteria and protozoa which usually forms slimy, furry growths on solid surfaces such as wa­ter plants. Its presence indicates long-term organic pollution. The sample results indicated poor water quality.

The biologist concluded that the discharge had a severely negative impact on macro-inver­tebrate fauna in the tributary of Seggimoor Beck with the effect still apparent 450 metres downstream. The presence of the sewage fungus indicated that the pipe had been discharg­ing for at least a number of days.

James Barton, Managing Director of Glentham Farming Company Ltd, told Environment Agency officers that the company had increased its potato peeling work since February 2010 meaning more effluent was generated. He said the settlement tanks were unable to cope with the additional volume.

Mr Barton also said the company did not carry out routine checks of the stream and was not aware a permit was needed to discharge trade effluent.

Since the incident Glentham Farming Company Ltd has blocked the outlet to the first settle­ment tank so that effluent no longer discharges into the stream. Instead, it is contained in a tanker and spread on surrounding land owned by the company. The discharge pipe still drains surface water from the yard and land to the stream via a header pipe.

The company has also dredged the stream and wants to look into re-circulating or recycling of effluent.

However, the court heard, on 9 August 2010 Ms Woodall returned to check the discharge pipe and found that a further offence had been committed. The officer observed white froth in the stream, a sample result revealed that grossly polluting effluent was still being discharged. Mr Barton believed that the pollution was being caused by water in surround­ing land drains which was flushing through residual trade effluent in the drainage pipe.

Following this visit Mr Barton arranged for the drain to be jetted to remove any residual trade effluent. 


Fined for burning illegal waste

Total fines £5,000

During a prosecution of Mr West Bedford Magistrates' Court heard that carpet from a mar­quee business had been burned at his Long Lost Farm along with plastics, green waste and woods.

West came to the attention of the Environment Agency on 2 December 2009, when reports were made of burning at the farm. Investigating officers found plastic soil pipe and adhesive tube being burned with wood and tree loppings and advised West that plastics should not be burned.

Nine days later, while investigating a further report of burning, they saw dark smoke coming from a fire on the farm close to the River Ouse and another on the site of the previous fire, Mrs Sarah Nicholson told the court. "There was a distinct smell of burning plastic or rubber in the air."

The larger of the two fires was about five by six metres and one metre high at the centre, the main bulk of which appeared to be rolls of thin foam-backed synthetic carpet, the court was told.

"The carpet was smouldering and occasionally flaring up giving off noxious smoke," said Mrs Nicholson. "The officers phoned West and asked if he knew anything about the fire, but he did not."

A day later the officers drove past and saw that the fire was still smouldering.

West later told officers that he had lit the fire but did not know there was any carpet in it as he had taken the carpet there a long time ago and it had been buried underneath other waste.

Evidence from nearby farmers and others was that West had more recently taken carpet onto site, Mrs Nicholson told the court. West said he took carpet waste from a marquee business he was involved with to a legitimate site in Wellingborough - the site operators had no record of any such deliveries of waste to any of their sites.

Mrs Nicholson told magistrates that the burning of carpet, plastics and treated wood can cause harm to human health or pollution to the environment.

After the hearing Environment Agency officer Jeremy Hay said: "Emissions from fires such as these are likely to include toxic substances such as hydrogen chloride, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

"Had Mr West listened to our advice nine days previously he could have avoided being convicted and fined. However, we will always endeavour to prosecute those who flagrantly breach environmental legislation - it is there to protect our environment."

West pleaded guilty to: On or about 11 December 2009, on land at Long Last Farm, 6 East End, Pavenham, Bedford,

Bedfordshire you did keep, treat or dispose of controlled waste, namely treated wood, plas­tic and carpet, in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.


Transport company in deep water

Total fines £4,000

A Surrey transport company has been ordered to pay a total of £6,867 after pleading guilty to polluting a stretch of the River Thames with oil. VK Transport, whose registered address is Crosslands Road, West Ewell, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £2,852 costs, plus a £15 victim surcharge, by magistrates. The company faced one charge under Section 85 of the Water Resources Act 1991.

Kingston Magistrates' Court heard that around 40 swans were affected by the pollution, which entered the River Thames in Kingston on July 14 2008. Members of the public in­formed Environment Agency officers that a large amount of oil could be seen on the Thames and a patrol boat was sent to investigate.

It was confirmed later the same day that the pollution was entering the river from a surface water sewer at Westfield Landing, off Portsmouth Road in Kingston, and that it had collect­ed around a number of boats on a 500 metre downstream stretch. The Environment Agency attempted to clear up the pollution by placing oil absorbent booms around the area where the fuel was entering the river.

Following a detailed inspection of the area's surface water system, with help from Thames Water Utilities Ltd, the pollution was traced to an address in Lower Marsh Lane, Kingston. This address is leased by the defendant and was the source of the pollution.

Environment Agency officer Peter Ehmann took oil samples from the site, which was being used as a vehicle maintenance yard. The site had an oil interceptor, which is designed to stop small spillages of oil from leaving the site. However it was so full of oil that it could not function properly causing thick black waste engine oil to run in to the surface water sewer system. The company admitted in court that it had failed to empty the interceptor, which meant the interceptor failed to operate properly.

The surface water sewer system was confirmed to be linked directly to the outfall at West­field Landing where oil was seen discharging the previous day. Samples taken of the oil discharging from this large outfall from behind the boom were analysed and shown to be consistent with the oil found at 56b Lower Marsh Lane.

Approximately 40 swans were affected by oil and the worst cases had to be rescued by the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton. In his opinion a trustee of the sanctuary said had these swans not been rescued and treated, the worst affected would have died from swallowing the oil or the oil would have stopped their feathers being waterproof and they would have died of hypothermia.

Staff from the Environment Agency visited the site on 15 August 2008 and no more oil could be seen around the outfall, or further downstream, and the booms were removed.

Environment officer Peter Ehmann said: "This incident resulted in significant damage to lo­cal wildlife and the general area. We were confronted with an unpleasant scene when we first arrived.

"Although a number of swans had to be rescued and cared for by the local swan sanctuary, it was fortunate that the pollution didn't result in any fish mortality. Irresponsible handling of oil and disposing of oil down drains is totally unacceptable and we are pleased that the court has recognised this."


Roofing contractor dumped asbestos waste in a field

Total fines £3,600

A Wellington roofer and two accomplices have been ordered to pay more than £3,600 in fines and costs for illegally dumping a trailer load of waste asbestos roofing tiles in the Som­erset countryside

Andrew Disney, who trades as Disney Roofing, was caught after packaging containing his home address was found among waste dumped in a stubble field at Boomer Farm, North Petherton. The farm lies within The Quantock Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The farmer was alerted by a friend who told him one of his fields had been targeted by fly-tippers. The waste included old asbestos tiles, drainpipes, wood and plastic. The farmer reported the incident to Sedgemoor District Council and handed over a box with Disney's home address on it.

On October 2, 2009 two police officers went to 88 Springfield Road, Wellington and arrested Disney on suspicion of depositing controlled waste without a licence. They were accompa­nied by officers from the Environment Agency's environmental crime team.

Information obtained from Disney during questioning implicated two other men, Gareth Bright and Andrew Bryant, in the crime. When interviewed Disney and Bright said they borrowed Bryant's van to transport the waste to Boomer Farm using a trailer belonging to Disney.

Samples of waste taken from the field were analysed and found to contain white and brown asbestos - a hazardous substance that must be disposed of at a licensed site. The waste had come from a site in the Blagdon Hill area of Taunton.

Disney had earlier hired a skip to legally dispose of any hazardous waste, but it had been re­moved by contractors before all the asbestos roof tiles and drainpipes the from the roofing job at Taunton had been cleared. It was this surplus waste that was dumped.

'Fly-tipping is not only a blight on the landscape, it also damages wildlife habitats and can pose a risk to human health. It is especially important hazardous wastes like asbestos are disposed of safely. We are determined to bring offenders to justice by working in close partnership with the police and local authorities. The public can play an important role by reporting any fly-tipping incidents they see,' said Glyn Sewell for the Environment Agency.

Appearing before Bridgwater magistrates Andrew Disney was ordered to pay £1,844 costs and given a 12 month community order requiring him to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work. Gareth Bright of 5 Churchfields, Wellington was ordered to pay £922 costs and or­dered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work under a 12 month community order. Andrew Bry­ant, also of 5 Churchfields, Wellington, was fined £300 and ordered to pay £285 costs.


Waste site prosecuted for breaching permit conditions

Penalty: Suspended prison sentence

A father and son who operated a waste site at Arch Street, Bolton have received suspended prison sentences for flouting environmental regulations. Michael and Mark Rogers were each given an eight week prison sentence suspended for two years, 200 hours unpaid work and have each been ordered to pay costs of £3,642.05 to the Environment Agency.

Bolton Magistrates heard that between 1 May and 28 October 2009 Environment Agency Officers visited AWR Rent a Skips Ltd's site at Arch Street, Bolton on 11 occasions. They found up to three times more waste on site than the company was allowed to have. The site's permit authorised it to accept up to 1000 tonnes of household, commercial and in­dustrial waste, however during this period up to approximately 3000 tonnes of waste was seen on site. Despite repeated requests, and enforcement notices, to reduce the quantity of waste, they continued to bring material on to site. The site also suffered from a fly infesta­tion which affected neighbouring properties and resulted in complaints from members of the public.

Simon Oldfield, Environment Management Team Leader for the Environment Agency said, "The actions of AWR Rent a Skip Ltd, showed a deliberate and intentional disregard for the environment. The company directors were fully aware of the legal requirements for the site and were given a number of opportunities to comply with their permit.

"The failure to operate within permit limits created a risk of harm to the environment and impacted on the neighbouring area and local residents. It also created an unfair advantage over other operators who do operate with the conditions of their own permits."


Company director sentenced

Penalty: two year conditional discharge

On 27 August 2010, Edward O'Neill, of Blacksmiths Close, Nether Broughton, Melton Mow­bray pleaded guilty to three charges relating to the illegal dumping, keeping and shredding of tyres.

The 57 old was estimated to have benefited by over £325,000 as a result of his illegal ac­tivities. He was sentenced to a two year conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £1,500.  Counsel for Prosecution, Romilly Edge, told the court that the defendant was the director of Robin Hood Environmental Ltd, a company that owned and operated a waste disposal site at Oakfield Lane, Warsop. The site was located next to a vacant plot of land owned by Notting­hamshire County Council. The land owned by the Council did not have a waste management licence but the defendant took possession of this land and used it as a waste disposal site by depositing, keeping and treating waste tyres on site, in contravention of section 33 Environ­mental Protection Act 1990.

Between January 2007 and August 2008 the Environment Agency carried out regular site inspections. On a site visit on 7 September 2007 the defendant was first advised by the En­vironment Agency that he was unlawfully storing tyres on unlicensed land. He subsequently was informed on numerous occasions that he was operating the site against the law and that he needed to obtain a waste management licence for the land owned by the Council. He was also asked to remove tyres from the land, but these requests were never complied with.

During a site visit conducted by Environment Agency officers on 31 January 2008 Mr O'Neill was interviewed under caution and stated that he believed that he owned the land, that tyres had been deposited on this land for over 20 years and that he believed that the this land was covered by a waste management licence.

At no time over the prosecution period was a waste management licence ever sought or obtained for the land owned by Nottinghamshire County Council. In particular, Mr O'Neill made no attempt to secure a Waste Management Licence after the Environment Agency informed him that such a licence was required.

On 29 May 2009 the site occupied by Robin Hood Environmental Ltd caught fire, requiring Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Services to be on site until 3 June.

Speaking after the case David Brown, Lead Officer for the Environment Agency's investiga­tion, said: "It is important that sites comply with the rules and regulations. Where compa­nies choose to ignore these rules we will take action through the courts. We have worked together with our partners in Mansfield District Council to show that neither organisation will allow companies to threaten the environment or place the public at risk. Had this com­pany still being in existence the penalties would have been far greater. Other companies and individuals should take careful note of this and follow the rules."

In mitigation Counsel for Defence, Tim Green, said that the defendant had been misled by a surveyors' report that mistakenly indicated that the defendant's company owned the Coun­cil's land. Mr Green admitted that the defendant had failed to take any steps to remove the tyres when he had been informed of this error. He informed the court that Mr O'Neill's reluctance to remove the tyres was due in part to his frustration with his advisors but also because the defendant had hoped to reclaim and recycle the tyres for fuel. The court was informed that when the business failed, the defendant lost all of his savings. The court was shown a copy of the misleading surveyor's report and a statement of the defendant's means.

His Honour Judge Milmo QC sentenced the defendant to a two year conditional discharge. In doing so he observed that had the defendant been a company with substantial assets then the appropriate sentence would have been a significant fine but he noted that the defendant's company, Robin Hood Environmental Ltd, is in liquidation and the defendant is now dependant on benefits. In reaching this decision the judge noted that he must take account of the defendant's means in passing sentence and determined that it would be preferable that Mr O'Neill make a contribution of £1,500 to the prosecution costs (to the Environment Agency and Mansfield District Council) rather than imposing a low level fine that would only reflect the defendant's means but not the gravity of the offence.

The charges were brought by the Environment Agency under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.


Maritime and Coastguard Agency Prosecutions

A Master without a ticket

Defendant: Svitzer UK Ltd at Ipswich Magistrates' Court

Offence: Breach of Regulation 4 of The Merchant Shipping (Safe Manning, Hours of Work and Watchkeeping) Regulations 1997 and s85 and s86 Merchant Shipping Act 1995

Details: Svitzer pled guilty to employing a Master without a valid Certificate of Competence. The Master forgot to renew his certificate, which he is required to do every five years, and continued to sail as master without a certificate from 2005 to 2009. The company failed to notice that their employee no longer had a current certificate.

Penalty: Svitzer UK Ltd was fined £3,000 plus £4,000 in costs


Breach of Traffic Separation Scheme

Defendant: SET (Angel) Limited (formerly known as Seafield Emiel Trawlers (Lady T) Limited at Folkestone Magistrates' Court

Offence: Breach of Rule 10 (b) (i) of the Collision Regulations

Details: On 17 September 2008 the UK registered fishing vessel Emilia M Eniel (BM10) trav­elled the wrong way through the Dover Straits Traffic Separation Scheme for a period of just over two hours. The Emilia M Emiel was identified by the Coastguard aircraft. Throughout the incident the vessel was not engaged in fishing.

Subsequent enquiries proved to be difficult and time consuming, because of the need to correctly identify who had been on board the vessel at the time of the incident and to es­tablish their roles whilst on board. The investigation involved a large number of interviews including those with a director of the company which owned the vessel. What emerged from the interviews was a large degree of confusion between individuals on board as to who was the effective skipper of the vessel at the relevant time. This was a manifest failure on the part of the company to ensure that these matters were clear to all concerned before the vessel was put to sea. 

Penalty: SET (Angel) Limited was fined £2,000 plus £3,000 costs


Failure to take breath test

Defendant: Captain Rajesh K Singh at Lyndhurst Magistrates' Court

Date of Offence: 8 September 2010

Offence: Failing to supply a specimen.

Details: In the early hours of Wednesday 8 September 2010 Nord Fast, a 176m long tanker with a displacement of 48,983 tonnes was proceeding in to Fawley oil refinery jetty with the assistance of a pilot.

The Pilot became concerned about the state of the Captain and subsequently the Police attended the vessel and Captain Singh was breathalysed. He failed that test and so was arrested and take to the Police Station for further tests. At the Police Station he recorded a reading of 78 but then failed to undertake a second test which is required by procedures.

Penalty: Captain Singh was fined £1,600 plus £85 costs and £15 victim support charge


Health and Safety news

Local authorities have been reminded of their health and safety responsibilities ahead of waste and recycling inspection programme.

Local authorities are being reminded to check that they are clear on their health and safety responsibilities in procuring and managing waste and recycling services, ahead of a pro­gramme of inspections that will begin next month.

Over the next three years, inspectors from the HSE will look at the procurement and man­agement of municipal waste and recycling services following the introduction of guidance in January that clarifies the legal duties on local authorities, whether they deliver them in-house or contract them out. Some mistakenly believe that contracting out these services relieves them of health and safety responsibilities.

HSE Inspector, Wayne Williams spoke at the Birmingham NEC in the following terms:

"Despite recent improvements, the performance of the waste and recycling sector is still poor compared with others. The industry has nine times more fatal accidents than the na­tional average and four times as many workers suffer injuries.

As well as dealing with those authorities that have systems and processes that need im­provement, we want to use our inspections to identify areas of good practice which can be shared with others. We've worked with local authorities and members of the Waste Industry Health and Safety (WISH) forum, amongst others, to develop the guidance. We have also run a series of regional events, giving local authorities the opportunity to ask questions, share their experiences with others and seek advice on potential management solutions. Nothing should come as a surprise.

We are encouraging local authorities to come and see us at this event and get any help or advice they need. As clients local authorities have real influence on how services are deliv­ered and they need to be using this influence to ensure it is done safely."


New safety advice issued on electric gates

Installers, designers, maintenance firms and manufacturers of electric gates, are being urged to seriously consider new safety advice issued by the HSE following the recent deaths of two children involving these gates.

The safety alert points out that limiting the closing forces of gates alone will not provide sufficient protection to meet the relevant standards, and installers must fit additional safe­guards to gates in public areas.

HSE's Director of Field Operations, David Ashton, said:

"Electric or automatic gates are designed to stop if someone gets in the way, and installers and those maintaining these gates have a real duty to ensure this happens. They must take their responsibilities seriously to make sure that anti-crushing, shearing and trapping safety protection devices are correctly set and maintained."

This alert follows a similar notice issued in February this year reminding gate manufacturers and installers of their safety responsibilities when designing, building and installing electri­cally powered gates.

On 28 June this year, Semelia Campbell, 6, died when she was crushed by electric gates in Manchester. A few days later on 3 July, Karolina Golabek, 5, was also crushed to death by electric gates in Bridgend, South Wales.

While the police and HSE investigations continue into both deaths, HSE does want to make it clear to installers that they must take action to prevent pedestrians from becoming trapped in electric gates.

David Ashton added:

"When manufacturing, designing or installing electric gates, it's crucial to consider who will be in the area when it's operating. If general public can access the gate then additional pro­tections should be in place.  These protections can be in the form of creating safe distances, installing fixed guards, lim­iting the forces or installing sensitive protective equipment - among others." 



Regulatory Law


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