Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Worker's clothes set alight during factory explosion at Renishaw in Stone

An engineering firm has been ordered to pay £13,397 by a court after an industrial vacuum cleaner exploded and burned one of its employees.

Hossein Sheyk Poor suffered burns to his face, neck, shoulder and arm in the workplace accident in February, 2011.

Engineer Mr Poor's clothes and face mask were set alight when the vacuum exploded as he tried to remove powder from a floor at Renishaw, in Stone.

The accident left the 27-year-old in hospital for two weeks.

He needed three months off work following the incident and has been left with a permanent burn scar to his left hand.

Now Renishaw – which has 50 workers at Whitebridge Industrial Estate – has admitted a health and safety breach.

Health and Safety Inspector Wayne Owen told Stafford Magistrates' Court yesterday: "The day before the accident another employee used the vacuum to clean up aluminium powder which had been spilt from a faulty valve on a sieving machine. It was then put to one side and the vacuumed aluminium started to react with water in the vacuum and started to produce hydrogen gas.

"The following day Mr Poor took the vacuum to the sieving room, plugged it in and then it exploded. The motor part was blown clean off the drum and Mr Poor was lucky it did not hit his head. His clothing and face mask was on fire and several workers ran to his aid."

Mr Owen told the court that the accident could have been prevented if the firm had carried out a proper risk assessment.

Representing Renishaw, Matt Kyle, said: "The company has taken this extremely seriously.

"This is something which has never been encountered previously.

"This is a company that has not quite done enough rather than fallen well below the standard which is expected."

Renishaw pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety.

The firm was hit with a £7,000 fine and ordered to pay £6,397 costs.

Magistrate Richard Thomas, said: "It is quite clear that Mr Poor could have been much more seriously injured, or even killed, but we are pleased to see he is well on the way to recovery. We would like to commend the prompt action taken by the company following this incident."

Renishaw has now replaced the vacuum with a model which is suitable for cleaning up aluminium powder.

This article is courtesy of this is Staffordshire.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Teacher handed £400,000 in compensation after pupil knocked his arm into a filing cabinet

A teacher whose arm was knocked into a filing cabinet by a pupil received almost £400,000 in compensation, it has emerged.

The secondary school worker was putting a confiscated football into the cabinet when the child smashed his arm in the drawer.

The victim was unable to continue working after developing ‘complex regional pain syndrome’ – described by the NHS as a ‘burning pain’ - and was handed £382,930 in compensation.

The details emerged as it was revealed compensation for teachers broke through the £30million barrier last year for the first time as unions secured record payouts.

Successful claims rose by up to a quarter compared to 2011, leaving councils and schools with soaring legal bills.

Many awards are higher than those given to military personnel who have lost limbs while on duty in combat zones.

In another case, a 39-year-old teacher received £240,000 for developing sinusitis and asthma from working in a poorly-ventilated workshop for ten years.

Another won £66,291 after breaking her leg in two places and dislocating an ankle by slipping on moss.

Other payouts included £7,000 for breaking a wrist after slipping on food in a hall, despite claims the victim contributed to the injury by waving at a colleague.

The NASUWT claimed £15.6million in total for members in 2012. This was up a quarter on the previous year – a figure that was already up 20 per cent on 2010.

The National Union of Teachers – which together with the NASUWT represents 90 per cent of teachers – does not compile total payouts.

But, together with £5.5million from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, the total paid out for personal injury and employment disputes, as well as awards from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, is believed to be well above the £25million paid out in 2011. Much of the money was paid out by insurance companies.

Most of the compensation came through compromise agreements, which are legal deals that avoid costly tribunals.

These prevent employees from pursuing claims through any other route. But critics fear they make the likelihood of a payout greater.

The NASUWT said nearly £12.5million was secured for 984 members through compromise agreements. A further £4.3million was won this way for members by the ATL.

The financial awards will raise questions about ‘rewards for failure’. One teacher resigned after she was told her weak performance increased the risk of the school going into special measures.

She won a £30,000 constructive dismissal claim. NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: ‘Behind every one of these cases is a person who has been damaged physically or mentally.’

But Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the sums involved were ‘shocking’ and meant ‘less money spent on educating children’.

This article is courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Legoland Windsor fined after worker fell from ride

The owner of Legoland in Berkshire has been fined £23,200 and told to pay £12,115 in costs after a worker fell from a ride while carrying out repairs.

Reading Magistrates' Court heard the 42-year-old man fell more than 3m (9ft) as he tried to remove two damaged roller-coaster trains from a track.

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd admitted two breaches of health and safety regulations on 1 June 2011.

But the firm maintained "a prosecution was wholly unjustified".

Merlin Attractions Operations, based in Poole, Dorset, said it "chose to plead guilty and draw a line under this incident".

The court heard the worker, from Bracknell, broke his shoulder and several ribs but has since returned to work. 'Injury avoidable'

He was one of a team removing the damaged parts from the Dragon Coaster ride at the Windsor park and fell when he stepped on to a section of walkway that had been replaced but not secured.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a risk assessment by the company stated that harnesses and lanyards should have been used, but this was not followed.

HSE Inspector Karen Morris said the injury had been avoidable.

She said: "It is quite unacceptable that the day after someone was injured in this way, more work is carried out to complete the task, and allowed to continue in the same way with inadequate fall protection or fall prevention measures in place.

"The dangers of falls from height are well known, and Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd was placing employees at unnecessary risk."

A spokeswoman for Legoland Windsor said the health and safety of employees and visitors was its "primary concern".

She said an internal investigation showed the park had "taken all reasonable steps to ensure the safety" of workers but that the HSE had "taken no account of our excellent safety record, procedures and culture".

"This was in our opinion an unfortunate accident for which a prosecution was wholly unjustified," she said.

"Given the circumstances we believe this is neither fair nor reasonable.

"However, the regulations in question give little scope for any defence and therefore the company chose to plead guilty and draw a line under this incident."

This article is courtesy of BBC News.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Coldplay donates track to tinnitus charity album

British chart-toppers Coldplay have agreed to contribute a remix of one of their tracks to a charity album aimed at raising awareness of tinnitus.

DJ Eddy Temple-Morris, who dreamt up the project, said he planned to put together an album "where every single person involved has tinnitus".

Coldplay singer Chris Martin suffers from the condition - a constant buzzing in the ear, often caused by loud music.

Other bands involved in the project include Black Eyed Peas and Embrace.

The common condition, where sounds are heard in one or both ears when there is no external source, is caused by a misinterpretation by the brain of signals from the nerves in the ear.

The project, entitled I Am The One in Ten, is the brainchild of Temple-Morris, producer and ambassador of the British Tinnitus Association (BTA).


"We need to get through to the government that it's not just musicians and soldiers that get tinnitus, it's every layer of society," he said.

"We want to reflect this by putting together a compilation album where every single person involved has tinnitus."

Temple-Morris said he was "so happy that Chris Martin has given this his blessing" and that the album, if produced, "could be a game-changer".

The record, he continued, would include an exclusive remix of Coldplay's Charlie Brown, the third single from the band's 2011 release Mylo Xyloto.

"It's never been out and this will be the only place you can get it," Temple-Morris told the BBC.

"It's an amazing mix that I was hammering all over Europe last summer."

This article is courtesy of BBC News.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Businessman Brian Beavis spared jail for supplying faulty truck that crushed a father to death

A man has today admitted hiring out a faulty dumper truck that crushed a father-of-six to death when it toppled over.

Brian Beavis supplied the one-tonne skip loader to 47-year-old Ken Pinkerton, who died after it fell onto its side and crushed him.

A court heard the dumper had no seatbelt or working rollover bar – both which could have saved the life of Mr Pinkerton, from Herne Bay.

Landscape gardener Mr Pinkerton had hired the loader and a mini digger from self-employed businessman Beavis, who traded as Heavy Plant Repairs in Nash Road, Ash, Canterbury.

The court heard Mr Pinkerton needed the machinery for a private job he was doing in Reigate, Surry, on September 28, 2011.

The mini-digger turned over while he was using it so, he jumped in the skip loader in an effort to upright the digger.

But as he was trying to operate the machine, it went backwards, reversed over some garden waste, left the ground and then tipped over.

He was thrown from his seat and suffered fatal crush injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found several defects on the skip loader and discovered Beavis had failed to provide any user information for the construction equipment.

He appeared at Guildford Crown Court today and admitted breaching health and safety laws.

He was given a nine-month prison sentence - suspended for a year - and ordered to pay £10,000 to Mr Pinkerton's partner Karen Checksfield, pictured right.

Passing sentence, Mr Recorder Nelson QC said: "It is just tragic that six children lost their dad. The deceased would likely have survived had there been a seatbelt and rollover bar."

Speaking after sentencing, Mrs Checksfield, of May Street, Hillborough, said her partner's death had a traumatic impact on all of their children, then aged between five and 17 years.

She said: "Five of the children are still having counselling. I am concentrating on getting the children through this tough time.

"The main thing is Ken is no longer here. He was my best friend and would support me emotionally.

"I miss so much not being able to talk to him about things. I can't put into words how I feel. If I had a bad day he would give me a cuddle, I miss that.

"It is the silly things you miss like sharing a joke or even watching TV together, or having 'grown-up' food and a glass of wine together. I miss his strength.

"There are so many things he will miss in the future, like giving his daughters away at their weddings, seeing future grandchildren - he loved children, he was like a big child himself."

HSE Inspector Amanda Huff said: "This was a tragic incident that devastated Mr Pinkerton's family and left six children, the youngest only five at the time, without their father.

"Brian Beavis could have prevented the incident by making sure that the skip loader was properly maintained and safe.

"Skip loaders are at risk of rolling when they are used on uneven ground. Had the machine had a working seat belt and functioning roll-over protection, it is probable Mr Pinkerton would have survived the crash.

"Businesses who hire out mobile plant must ensure that is in a safe condition and provide proper safety and user instructions to the customer.

"Anyone wanting to hire plant would be well advised to check all the safety features are in place and that clear instructions are available."

This article is courtesy of Kent Online.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Man loses both legs after falling into industrial tire shredder

A Kansas City man has lost both of his legs after falling into an industrial tire shredder.

The man was working at ABC Tire Recycling in the Missouri city last week when the accident occurred.

The Kansas City Fire Department said the man was either cleaning the machine when it started or accidentally fell in while it was running.

The man was caught in the machine and had to be freed.

When rescue crews arrived at the scene, coworkers had already extricated him from the shredder. Both of his legs were torn off in the accident.

Industrial tire shredders are powerful machines designed to reduce even the largest truck tires to small pieces within a matter of seconds.

However, authorities say the man has survived - despite two major arteries being cut in the accident.

His condition in the hospital Monday night was not known. Authorities did not release the man's name.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the case.

ABC Tire Recycling is a registered rubber recycler in Missouri, which uses the old tires to make fuel.

This article is courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Wounded troops to receive ‘significant’ compensation increase

Servicemen and women injured in the line of duty are to receive more compensation after legislative changes.

The Government is to implement an overhaul of the payouts to injured troops after a report from Admiral Lord Boyce last year.

As well as boosting payments for the injured, the revamp will also lead to improved compensation for some 10,000 troops helped by the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme since 2005.

News of the increased payments comes after it emerged almost £10.5million in compensation has been paid to British forces personnel injured in Afghanistan in the last four years.

Defence Minister Andrew Robathan said the Government would introduce all recommendations from the Boyce Report from May this year.

The overhaul includes an increase in guaranteed income payments so the impact of troops’ long-term injuries on their future job prospects is taken into account.

There will also be an average increase of over 25 per cent to all lump sum compensation payments, though the highest award will not be affected as it was recently doubled to £570,000.

Mr Robathan said: ‘No-one will lose out as a result of these changes. All those who have already received an award under the scheme will have their case automatically revisited and will receive an uplift.’

Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday David Cameron welcomed the moves.

‘We can never compensate people for their injuries, either physical or mental, in battle,’ he commented.

‘But we can, I think, as a generous and tolerant and welcoming nation to our armed forces, do so much more.’

It emerged today that 23 British troops injured in Afghanistan as a result of Ministry of Defence negligence have received a total of £10.49million compensation over the past seven years.

Awards of £1.22million and £1.1million went to two troops injured on sniper patrol when another member of their group set off a landmine.

This article is courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Bracknell tree surgeon's regrets over employee toe loss

A Berkshire tree surgeon has spoken of his regret after a 16-year-old employee lost part of his right foot in a workplace accident.

Connor Harfield was working for Bracknell-based Calibra Tree Surgeons when he was injured at Auckland Close, Maidenhead, on 23 September 2011.

The teenager's toes were shredded by a wood chipper.

Mark Grubb, 37, director of Calibra Tree Surgeons, said health and safety had since improved at the firm. Disabled and depressed

He said: "I have got absolute regret for what happened. I feel for Connor immensely for what's happened.

"We have learnt so much from this unfortunate experience. Our whole health and safety manual has been rewritten to protect the employee and to protect us as well.

"Unfortunately, we no longer take on people under the age of 18. We used to have work experience people from all the local schools.

"We wouldn't have anybody without basic chainsaw and chipper knowledge now."

Mr Harfield, now 18, was feeding brushwood into a mobile chipper when he put his right foot into the chute to speed up the flow. His shoe got caught and his foot was pulled into the blades.

The teenager, from Bracknell, who was three weeks into his first job when he was injured, was left disabled, depressed and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation found the wood chipper was poorly maintained, a safety bar was missing, and Mr Harfield had not been adequately trained or supervised.

Calibra Tree Surgeons was fined £7,000, ordered to pay £5,973 costs and £15 to a fund for victims of crime after admitting three breaches of health and safety regulations at Reading Magistrates' Court.

Mr Grubb added: "Not only was I responsible in the eyes of the law, I always felt personally responsible. I wouldn't wish this upon my worst enemy."

This article is courtesy of BBC News.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Jockey in coma after horror fall

Irishman John McNamara, 37, known in race circles as JT, was airlifted to hospital with potentially life-threatening neck injuries after Galaxy Rock fell at the first fence during the 4.40 race, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Chase.

He was flown by helicopter to the specialist Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.

Racing pundit Clare Balding took to Twitter last night to say he had suffered a “serious neck injury”.

Dr Adrian McGoldrick of the Irish Turf Club said: “JT took a crashing fall and was conscious afterwards but then had difficulty breathing so was put in an induced coma.”

Last night he added: “He is being looked after at the regional spinal unit but is still waiting for a scan.”

Mr McNamara’s uncle, the trainer Andrew McNamara, said: “I’ve been told he’s in an induced coma.”

Professional jockey Sam Thomas tweeted: “Thoughts with JT McNamara at the moment. Praying he’s OK.”

The jockey’s injury came shortly after Mathui, a horse running in the earlier Byrne Group Plate, had to be put down after falling at the final fence.

This article is courtesy of the Daily Express.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Magellan Aerospace factory still partially closed after worker's arm severed

Part of a Bournemouth factory remains closed off after a 23-year-old factory worker’s arm was severed in a horrific accident on Monday.

The local man, who has not been named, was treated at the scene by first aider colleagues at Magellan Aerospace UK in Wallisdown Road before paramedics arrived shortly after 12.30pm.

Police escorted the ambulance to Southampton Hospital, where he underwent surgery. His family has been informed and his employer has asked people to respect their privacy.

Shocked colleagues, some of whom had witnessed the accident, were given the chance to go home for the rest of the afternoon. The casualty had been working for the company for nearly five years and was in his improver year after a serving a four year apprenticeship in the machine shop.

Mary Walker, human resources director for Magellan, said: “The company wishes to extend its best wishes to the young man and his family during this difficult time. Unfortunately the company has no update on his condition at this stage but he continues to be in our thoughts and prayers.

“We understand there were a number of operators around at the time, some of whom went to help him. Operators were released to go home if they felt upset about it.

“Accidents of this nature rarely occur and the company has the highest standards of health and safety within its facilities. The company is working with the Health and Safety Executive and cannot comment on the detail of the accident until investigations are completed.”

The area where the young man had been working remains cordoned off pending the expected arrival of HSE investigators later this week. The rest of the factory reopened yesterday and the company is offering counselling for employees affected by the accident.

Magellan Aerospace UK is a subsidiary of a Canadian company. It employs about 350 people on the Bournemouth and Poole sides of Wallisdown Road, one of its two main manufacturing sites in the UK. The company makes and assembles aircraft components.

This article is courtesy of the Daily Echo.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Increase in work-stress injuries

Physiotherapists called yesterday for more action to reduce repetitive strain injuries (RSI) after research showed little progress had been made in six years. Official figures revealed 213,000 people had hand, arm, shoulder and neck problems last year caused or exacerbated by work.

According to a report from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, more than 80,000 were new cases, similar to the numbers recorded in 2002. The society said employers were not doing enough to prevent staff developing RSI. The problem costs firms £300m a year in sick pay and lost productivity, but few employers offer workers access to occupational health services, said the report.

Symptoms include pains across the arm, weakness, and a hardening of muscles in the arms and shoulders. It is commonly believed that RSI is caused by overusing certain muscles doing one task, but it is now acknowledged that mental stress can contribute. Physiotherapists' spokeswoman Pauline Cole said: "There is a clear opportunity for employers to do more to provide occupational health services.

This article is courtesy of theguardian.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Worker killed in saw accident at RSI home products

A cabinetmaker working at RSI Home Products died this year on the 23 of February when he got caught in an angular saw.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's office identified the victim as Marendonio Francisco Viruel Lopez. The sheriff's office said Lopez had worked at RSI Home Products for eight years under an assumed name.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is reportedly investigating the incident.

Anaheim, CA-based RSI, one of the nation's largest cabinet manufacturers, operates nine manufacturing and distribution centers in the U.S. and Mexico.

A day before the accident, RSI regained sole ownership after completing a buyback of 50 percent equity interest from Onex Corp. and its affiliates for $323 million.

This article is courtesy of the Woodworking Network.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Caregivers most in danger

Health care workers report second-highest rate of workplace injury.
The same people who take care of us when we’re sick are among the workers most in danger of getting hurt on the job.

Health care industry employees reported the second-highest rate of workplace injury and illness – a total of more than 22,000 incidents in 2011 – in the most recent data collected by the Indiana Department of Labor.

Statistics show 6.3 incidents for every 100 health care workers in 2011. Looking back at the decade leading up to that year, the rate has been as high as 8 per 100 workers in 2001 and as low as 5.9 per 100 in 2010.

Health care industry workers are more likely to get hurt on the job than factory or construction workers, according to the data. Among health care workers, the injury and illness rate is highest for those based in hospitals (7.2 per 100 workers) and nursing homes (9.5 per 100).

State officials last month launched a safety initiative aimed at Indiana’s 350,000 health care workers, who sometimes strain their backs trying to lift patients, slip on wet floors or stick themselves with used needles.

Union Hospital in Terre Haute was the first to collaborate with the state on the safety program. The facility has adopted measures that reduced workplace lifting injuries by 43 percent and falls by 38 percent. Work time lost to injuries was decreased by 84 percent, according to hospital officials.

Dr. William VanNess II, Indiana’s health commissioner, said supporting the health and safety of hospital and nursing home workers benefits everyone.

“Health care workers are extremely important to Hoosiers,” he said in a written statement. “Continuing to support safe and healthy working environments for those workers allows Hoosiers to have access to the most qualified health care professionals available, improving the overall health of our state.”

Local health care leaders say they already stress safety with staff but are always willing to learn new tips and tricks to keep their people healthy.

Preaching prevention

Lutheran Hospital hopes its nurses and other caregivers focus on training – rather than straining – when they move patients.

Zachary Beiswanger, a physical therapist, guides new hires at Lutheran Hospital and The Orthopedic Hospital on the proper ways to assist patients. He leads one-hour orientation sessions that staff must attend and pass before working one-on-one with patients.

Parkview Health requires similar training for new staff.

Beiswanger’s message: Don’t put your back into it.

When hospital staff relies on lifting equipment, both workers and patients are better protected from injury, he said.

If a caregiver allows a patient to clasp his hands around her neck for support when getting out of bed, the added weight could strain the caregiver’s neck, shoulders or back, Beiswanger said. Or – possibly worse – the added weight could be too much for the caregiver, sending the patient sprawling onto the hospital bed with the nurse on top of the pile.

Beiswanger trains nurses and other caregivers to help patients succeed in standing from their beds by making sure their feet are directly under them before attempting the feat and pushing off from the bed itself for that extra boost. “Employee safety goes hand-in-hand with patient safety,” he said.

Beiswanger, who also works directly with patients, holds a doctorate in physical therapy. He offers Lutheran staff continuing education on various safety topics, especially ergonomics, the science of designing and arranging things so people interact most efficiently and safely with them.

Reviewing injuries

Parkview Health officials have adopted some simple safety strategies that have paid off, said Diane Casey, operations director for Operational Health, the department that manages employee health for Parkview.

They include investing in mechanical lifts to move patients and slippery sheets to make it easier for staff to help patients sit up higher in bed.

Casey considers staff musculoskeletal strains the hardest to eliminate. Sometimes, she said, patients suddenly lose strength and caregivers don’t have time to use lift equipment to keep the patient from falling.

Parkview’s safety program has addressed issues from head to toe.

Workers – including those in housekeeping and food service – are now required to wear slip-resistant shoes. Crocs – the comfortable slip-ons that gained a loyal following among hospital workers – are strongly discouraged. The clunky plastic shoes are considered trip hazards, Casey said.

Despite those efforts, injuries still happen. When they do, Parkview officials review the incidents and try to identify whether the person, behavior, environment or tool was to blame.

When education is needed to avert a repeat of the incident, workers throughout the health care system receive training, Casey said.

Parkview leaders started using that weekly injury review process in 2009. Since then, Parkview Health’s injury incidence rate has fallen below the state average.

Parkview Hospital Randallia reported 9.5 injuries and illnesses per 100 full-time-equivalent workers for 2011 and 6.2 last year. Parkview Regional Medical Center, which opened March 17, reported 8.5 per 100.Lutheran Hospital in 2011 reported 11.2 injuries and illnesses per 100, an unusually high number for the hospital that typically reports rates between 8.6 and 9.5 per 100. Lutheran’s rate dropped back to 7.7 in 2012.

State assistance

The Indiana Department of Labor is offering health care employers free help that can be divided into three categories, spokeswoman Chetrice Mosley said.

The first focus is providing information, such as posters and signs that can be placed throughout a health care facility. The Labor Department also offers articles that can be printed in workplace newsletters. For those who prefer to go online, there are blog posts and podcasts.

The second state effort is online education and training.

And the third is consultations to help smaller organizations develop safety training, Mosley said. INSafe, a division of the state’s Labor Department, will visit worksites to consult on training plans and follow up to make sure the program is on track.

State officials assure employers that such visits don’t trigger a federal or state Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations or inspections.

Employers who agree to correct serious violations aren’t reported to enforcement agencies.

Looking at the bottom line, workplaces that focus on employee health and safety save money, Mosley said.

Statistics show, she said, that safer workplaces have:
•Less employee turnover
•Fewer OSHA fines
•Fewer workers’ compensation payouts
•Fewer work days lost
•Higher employee morale
•Better community relations

Although Parkview Health already has a safety program in place, Casey said the organization is “absolutely” interested in looking at what the state has to offer to supplement efforts.

“I don’t think there can ever be too many reminders” about safety, she said.

Lutheran Health Network and Parkview Health are committed to becoming High Reliability Organizations.

The method – used by the airline and nuclear energy industries – calls for zero errors as its standard.

Lutheran CEO Joe Dorko uses an unconventional illustration to make his point.

Imagine, he said, that in the space between patient and caregiver are five slices of Swiss cheese. Any time holes in all the slices line up, an accident happens. So staff needs to do everything it can to minimize the size and number of holes, Dorko said.

“We really want to manage the Swiss cheese between the provider and the patient,” he said.

Discussing safety daily, Dorko said, makes it part of corporate culture.

This article is courtesy of JournalGazzette.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Brompton man dies after accident at Severfield-Watson plant near Thirsk

A 27 year old man has died after being crushed by a forklift truck at the largest steel fabrication plant in the UK.

Kelvin McGibbon became trapped under the vehicle while working in the stores area of the 55-acre Severfield-Watson site in Dalton Airfield Industrial Estate, near Thirsk, North Yorkshire, at around 8.30am last Wednesday (Wednesday, March 13).

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service attended the scene with heavy lifting equipment before paramedics found Mr McGibbon, of Hilton Close, Brompton, near Northallerton, had suffered serious injuries.

He was flown to Leeds General Infirmary by the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

A police spokesman said it had launched a joint investigation into the incident with the Health and Safety Executive.

He said: “At this stage the death is being treated as a tragic accident and no one else is being sought in connection with the incident."

The firm, which is among North Yorkshire’s biggest private sector employers with around 700 staff producing 3,200 tonnes of steel a week at its headquarters in Dalton, sent workers home following the incident.

The tragedy comes as a further blow to the firm which earlier this month announced a £23.3m pretax loss on sales of £256m, brought on by a string of loss-making contracts.

A spokesman for Severfield-Watson, which provided the structures for the Baltic Millennium Bridge, Gateshead, Arsenal's Emirates stadium, the Wimbledon Centre Court roof and the Shard of Glass skyscraper in London, said: “At this moment our thoughts are with Kelvin’s family.

“A full investigation is under way and until this is completed the company is not in a position to comment any further.”

Colleagues of Mr McGibbon said they had been stunned by the tragedy, particularly as the firm has a health and safety director, conducts forklift truck training, has monthly staff safety meetings.

One co-worker said: "We always had a joke and a chat as he got off the bus and he was a great chap to work with on the day shift. We will all really miss him."

A statement about health and safety on the firm’s website said: “The board is committed to high standards of health and safety for all of its employees.

“The group operates in a particularly risky working environment and the board is proud of its good safety record.”

This article is courtesy of The Northern Echo.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Company fined after worker severely injured at paper mill

A paper manufacturer has been fined after a worker seriously injured his left arm when it became trapped in moving machinery.

Stonehaven Sheriff Court was told today (13 March) that the 54-year-old, from Aberdeen, was employed as a coaterman at the Stoneywood Paper Mill, operated by Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Limited, when the incident happened on 15 October 2010.

He had worked at the mill for 17 years and had been working on the Paper Coating Machine, which applied separate coatings to paper after sheets had been formed, since it was installed in 2003.

The court heard that he was attempting to clean the rolls at the coating head section of the machine because there was a problem with excess coating mix contamination accumulating on the rolls.

While the machine was operating at normal production speed, at around 300 metres per minute, he went to the back of the machine and used a set of small steps to climb up and stand on a beam in the machine frame.

Using his right hand to steady himself, he then used a sponge pad and cloth in his left hand to clean the rolls, a method he had used on previous occasions. However, his left hand was suddenly taken into the machine at the in-running nip formed by the lap roll and camber roll.

The worker managed to pull his hand free after a few seconds and raised the alarm, but not before it was badly injured.

He had to have two metal plates inserted into his fractured left arm and has been left with scarring. He still does not have full movement in his arm and although he hopes to recover much of its strength, he has been told it will never be 100 per cent healed. He has since returned to work but is still on light duties.

An investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had provided training when the machine had been installed in 2003, but interviews among employees found several workers had adopted unsafe methods of cleaning the rolls and management appeared to be completely unaware of this.

The investigation concluded that this indicated a failure to adequately supervise employees.

Following the incident, a new method of cleaning the lap rolls was introduced, with access from a designated point, at an out-running nip where there is no risk of being drawn into the machine. Employees also use a long pole with a scraper attached and the machine running at a reduced speed of 80 metres per minute.

Arjo Wiggins Fine Papers Limited, of Eversheds House, Great Bridgwater Street, Manchester, was fined £75,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector John Radcliffe, said:

"Although the company had established a safe system of work for cleaning the rolls of the paper machine some time ago, this had clearly deteriorated over time and there was a failure in management supervision.

"As a result, the very unsafe practice of cleaning rolls at full production speed by some employees was not detected and this was allowed to continue for several years until the incident occurred.

"The injuries suffered by this worker were serious and life changing for him, but could have also been far worse as there is a history in the paper industry of amputation and fatal injuries occurring when safe systems of work are not adopted when cleaning or maintaining paper machines."

This article is courtesy of the Health and Safety Executive.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Council pays £800,000 compensation to injured workers in five years

East Sussex County Council paid out £2,000 when "employee sustained injury whilst moving laptop" and £1,000 for an "employee injured whilst pacing rubbish into a skip".

The council also forked out £6,000 to a worker who was injured while "closing a window" and £1,575 to a member of staff who was "hit on head by car park barrier".

On top of this they were forced to pay out a staggering £26,000 for a worker who slipped on some ice in a car park and £2,500 for a worker who sat on a piano stall which collapsed.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request also show that the biggest claim was £240,000 in 2009 for a chemistry teacher who contracted mesothelioma during their 34-year employment.

The numbers relate to a period between January 2008 and January 2013. The total amount of compensation paid during that time was £869,904.51.

This article is courtesy of The Telegraph.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Woman died from industrial disease, inquest told

A woman died as the result of an industrial disease, an inquest has been told.

Linda McGuirk, 62, from Hollywood, died in her home on January 8 after her health deteriorated.

During the course of her working life Mrs McGuirk was exposed to asbestos, as a result of which she developed mesothelioma, a form of cancer that affects that lines the inner surface of the chest.

The medical cause of death was given as carcinomatosis, a condition in which cancer has spread widely and mesothelioma of the right pleura.

The coroner for Worcestershire recorded a verdict that she died as the result of an industrial disease.

This article is courtesy of The Redditch Adviser.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Occupation related asthma: The newest public health crisis

Studies performed in Spain by Dr. Josep Anto from the Municipal Institute of Medical Research demonstrated that women employed as housekeepers exhibited an increased risk of developing asthma secondary to cleaning chemical exposure. Of the hundreds of women evaluated for the study, 40 percent held employment as housekeepers in the past or present. Scientists found that one in eight women connected with cleaning positions, suffered from asthma. One in six women suffered from bronchitis.

Industries Linked to Adult Asthma

The housekeeping and general cleaning occupation is only one industry seeing an onset of adult asthma due to chemical exposure. There were 18 high-risk jobs linked to the adult asthma cases. At the top of the list were farmers. The use of cleaning products on equipment, pesticides, and even small particles of flour and grains have the risk of causing adult asthma.

General cleaners, office cleaners, care workers, aircraft mechanics, and even typesetters were all listed as high-risk professions for asthma. Even your local hairdresser isn’t safe. The inhalation of small particles into the airways can cause the irritation and workers are advised to protect themselves.
Agents Linked to Occupational Asthma

There have been many agents identified to contribute to the onset of adult asthma linked by occupation. Many of these agents are often overlooked or not considered hazardous. Aside from commonly inhaled particles such as grains and flour, many chemical agents are high-risk. Some of these agents include:
  • Acetic acid
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Bleaching agents
  • Burned-paint fumes
  • Chlorine gas
  • Floor sealant
  • Hydrochloric acid
  • Locomotive/diesel exhaust
  • Phosgene
  • Phosphoric acid
  • Silicon
  • Silo gas
  • Smoke (inhaled)
  • Sodium hydroxide
  • Sulfuric acid
  • Toluene diisocyanate
  • Welding fumes

Many of these chemicals are in constant use throughout a variety of industries. Some of these industries that have a particularly higher risk than others may include:
  • Bakers, farmers, flour mill workers, grain elevator workers
  • Silk-processing workers, research laboratory workers, insect-raising facility workers
  • Prawn, snow-crab, and fish processors
  • Laboratory workers, animal handlers
  • Detergent producers, food industry workers, blood-processing laboratory workers
  • Carpet manufacturing workers, pharmaceutical industry workers, latex-glove manufacturing workers, health care workers
  • Plastic, rubber or foam manufacturing workers, spray painters, foam insulation installers
  • Solderers, electronic industry workers
  • Health care workers
  • Employer Responsibilities

Adult asthma risks are commonly overlooked by employers. Where cleaning supplies are concerned, employers educate their employees to more serious risks rather than constant inhalation. With this widespread condition, employers are advised to take action.

Employers must first identify the high-agents used by employees on a regular basis. Equipping employees with adequate respiratory protection such as masks can help reduce the risk. Other options include replacing the high-risk agents, reassigning high-risk employees (those with a history of asthma), and educating employees to the risks involved with their everyday duties.

Worker’s Compensation and Treatment

As employees are affected by the work conditions, worker’s compensation claims may increase. These claims should be dealt with according to local regulations. The assessment of occupational asthma should only be performed two years after the employee has been removed from high-risk conditions and the asthmatic condition has stabilized.

Treatment for occupational asthma is the same as any asthmatic condition. Inhalers and drug therapies may be needed for the condition. Frequent medical follow-ups are suggested to treat the asthma. Employee education is vital in creating a safe workplace that will allow the treatment to help. Keeping employees away from asthma triggers, and demonstrating behavior changes will assist in treatment.

Every day we are unknowingly exposed to public health risks. Even as our government steps in to battle these risks and increase the health of the U.S. we must still educate ourselves to truly be safe. Public health should be a concern for every one of us and the more you know, the better protected you can be.

About the Author

Tracy Rentz writes on public health issues. Interested in creating a healthier world and solving wide-scale health problems? Pursuing a public health masters degree might be the right choice for you.

This article is courtesy of Hive Health Media.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Industrial diseases: Call to recover treatment cost from business

Ministers have been urged to consider whether businesses and insurers should pay NHS medical bills for all industrial diseases in Wales.

The call comes from AMs considering a bill to give the Welsh government powers to recover the estimated £2m annual cost of treating asbestos patients.

Around 4,500 people a year die from asbestos-related diseases in the UK.

All forms of asbestos were banned from use in the UK in 1999.

The legislation is being proposed by Pontypridd AM Mick Antoniw, a former solicitor.

But the committee's report questions whether the mechanism for recovering the money is adequate. Wider implications

Such legislation could result in Welsh ministers recovering costs from bodies they fund, and the report asks if it is sensible to gain compensation from one part of the public sector in order to give it to another.

Health and Social Care Committee chair Mark Drakeford said: "The committee agrees that legislation is necessary to fulfil the general principles of the Recovery of Medical Costs for Asbestos Diseases (Wales) Bill.

"But we believe the Welsh government should consider the possibility of broadening this model to include other industrial-related illnesses and the implications of such a development.

"The committee also questions whether the mechanism for recovering the significant costs associated with treating asbestos-related diseases is adequate.

"We are recommending that the financial estimates on which this bill is based are updated as quickly as possible ahead of the next stage of the legislative process."

The committee's other recommendations include a call for Mr Antoniw and Welsh ministers to "give further consideration to whether and how the costs of palliative care are included in the tariff".

The bill will now be debated by the full assembly before being considered in more detail.

All forms of asbestos were banned from use in the UK in 1999, after it became widely recognised as a serious health threat.

Used as a fire retardant in buildings, asbestos fibres can cause the fatal lung cancer mesothelioma, and the scarring of the lungs, known as asbestosis.

According to government statistics, 4,500 people a year die from asbestos-related diseases in the UK.

But it can be decades after the initial exposure before the illnesses appears.

This article is courtesy of BBC News.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Man injured at forklift accident

A man has been taken to hospital with serious leg injuries after he became trapped under a battery while servicing a forklift truck.

Firefighters were called at just before 8.30am on the 22nd Febuaray to Wolseley UK’s Wainwright Road, Worcester, depot. Two fire crews released the man, who is in his 30s, using airbags and hydraulic lifting equipment in an hour-long rescue. The man was taken by air ambulance to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham suffering with serious, lower leg injuries.

A Wolseley UK spokesperson said: “We can confirm there was an incident at our Worcester DC yesterday morning involving a third party contractor, who was subsequently taken to hospital. The incident is currently under investigation.”

This article is courtesy of builder's merchant news.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Injured Bryan Firefighters Remain in Serious Condition at UTMB Galveston in the USA

Two firefighters from Bryan remain in serious condition at the University of Texas Medical Branch's Burn Unit in Galveston as of late Monday night, both badly burned during a rescue operation to help save a fellow firefighter in danger. Their condition has been confirmed by a member of the UTMB Staff - two other firefighters died after responding to the same fire.

Firefighter Ricky Mantey, Jr. and probationary firefighter Mitch Moran are both undergoing treatment at the Blocker Burn Unit.

A third injured member of the force, Lieutenant Gregory Pickard, died Saturday from his injuries at the same hospital.

Bryan Fire officials tell us their injuries were sustained while attempting to aid a fourth fireman at the scene of a large fire Friday at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bryan. The fire completely destroyed the building, which caught fire just after 11 p.m.

Lieutenant Eric Wallace, was reportedly inside the building to put out the flames and was running out of oxygen. Mantey, Moran, and Pickard were designated as members of a rapid intervention team deployed to help firemen in the event of an unexpected emergency. While the four men were inside, fire officials say the building's roof collapsed, causing the men to face extreme heat inside the burning building.

The three members of the rapid intervention team were taken by ambulance to St. Joseph Hospital in Bryan before being flown by helicopter to UTMB Galveston. Lt. Wallace died at the scene.

Hospital officials tell us it could be a long recovery for both of the survivors and that there is no word yet on exactly how long their stay might last.

Ricky Mantey, 30, has been with the Bryan Fire Department for five years. His colleagues describe him as a dependable and an enthusiastic member of the force.

Probationary Bryan firefighter Mitch Moran, 21, has been with the Bryan Fire Department for about 11 months. His co-workers describe him as a dedicated worker who was eager to learn while on duty with BFD.

UTMB's website says the Blocker Burn Unit specializes in the treatment of thermal, chemical and radiation burns, as well as research related to burns, trauma, sepsis and tissue repair. It claims the highest survival rate of patients with major burn injury of all hospitals in the U.S., with a rate of more than 80%.

This article is courtesy of KTBX.com.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

U.K personal injury burn claims

Solicitors handling burns and scar claims in the UK provide initial advice on how to go about claiming and whether the person is indeed eligible for the claim. This is usually done without charge. The affected person can also take advantage of a No Win No Fee agreement provided by many solicitors.

Solicitors have helped countless victims claim compensation as a result of road accidents, criminal attacks, workplace accidents, and accidents in public places. In addition to helping the victims in claiming their compensation, personal injury solicitors can also guide the affected person to qualified physicians.

Burns and Scarring

Personal injury claims made in the UK for burns or scarring are dependent on the section of the body where the burns have occurred. If scarring has occurred in the face, then the claims that have been made range from £20,000 pounds to £70,000 pounds for very severe scarring, and £1,200 pounds to £3,000 pounds for trivial scarring.

Investigation and Collecting Evidence

The experienced solicitor will listen to the circumstances in which the incident took place and will start collecting the required evidence needed for making a successful claim.

Solicitors will start to investigate the claim by collecting witness statements and incident reports. After investigating the case fully, the solicitor will then advise the affected person on the chances of winning the claim.

Raising the Claim and Negotiating

The claim would them be raised with the party who was at fault and their insurance company. Some claims would be settled through the out of court settlement process, while some cases go through the final hearing. After the final hearing, if the court still rejects the claim, there is no loss for the affected party as they are covered under the No Win No Fee agreement (if this was agreed).

As the scarring caused due to burns will take time to heal, the solicitor must handle the case carefully without affecting the treatment process of the victim. Solicitors may also start negotiating with the opposite party on the quantum of claims. They would consider the total treatment cost required for the injured person to be completely rehabilitated.

If the opposing party agrees to the claim amount, then an out of court settlement is arrived at. Solicitors use their negotiation skills to get the maximum claim benefits for the injured person, so doing your homework and choosing a highly qualified solicitor can mean a larger payout even if the case does not reach court.

Farm hand had horrific injury like a 'shark bite'

A farm worker suffered horrific leg and ankle injuries when she slipped and became trapped in unguarded machinery at a grain drying building.

Wanda Lustig (34) sustained a six-inch by four-inch gash to her lower left calf and will be scarred for life following the conveyor system accident at Townhead Farm, in Greenloaning.

Another employee, who saw the wound, likened it to a “shark bite” and the consultant surgeon who carried out an emergency operation on the Polish national said the injuries had occurred due to a “horrendous industrial accident”.

Somehow the woman managed to free her foot and, despite the excruciating pain, crawled from the building near Braco to raise the alarm.

Blackford Farms Ltd, owned by the billionaire Al Tajir family, from the United Arab Emirates, were fined £35,000 at Perth Sheriff Court after they admitted a catalogue of failings under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The family, who also own Highland Spring, purchased the farm as well as other land and properties extending to around 20,000 acres, almost 20 years ago.

The failures, listed in a three-page indictment, took place between October 18, 2009, and October 18, 2011. One of the charges indicated that the accident victim, who still lives in Braco, suffered “severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment”.

The court was told that Miss Lustig, who had worked as a general farm worker there for six years, was rushed by ambulance to Falkirk Royal Infirmary.

Senior depute fiscal David Glancy said she needed plastic surgery and skin grafts were taken from the top of her thigh, as well as muscle from her back, to “reform the tissue” lost at the site of the injury.

The scarring covers a quarter of her lower leg and she needed a stick to help her to walk. Further surgery will be required to restore the shape of her ankle, as well as repair muscle damage to her leg.

Ms Lustig was subsequently paid off by Blackford Farms Ltd and in early January of this year moved out of the tied cottage she lived in on the estate.

Solicitor Diane Turner, for Blackford Estates, said that the company had admitted liability for the accident and an interim payment had been paid to the victim.

Further medical reports were awaited before the amount of final compensation could be quantified. After the accident, a review of their operations had resulted in a “complete change in working practices”.

She added: “Health and safety has been completely reviewed and risk assessments are now in place for all the activities.’’

Miss Lustig had been made redundant in October of last year, along with a number of other employees, as part of the reorganisation and not as a consequence of her injuries.

The building where the accident had taken place had since been demolished and the company had “co-operated fully” with the Health and Safety Executive.

Imposing the fine on the company who made around £119,000 profit in 2011, Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said there had been a “serious breach” of regulations and the circumstances in the grain shed had been “inherently dangerous”.

HSE inspector Harry Bottesch said yesterday: “Agriculture remains one of the most dangerous industry sectors to work in. The serious and distressing injury suffered by Miss Lustig is the result of yet another entirely avoidable agricultural incident.’’

This article is courtesy of Strathearn Herald.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Worker’s fingers broken in factory accident

A worker broke two fingers when a production line was started at a North East factory while she was working on a stitching machine.

The accident happened at SHO123 Limited’s quilt production line at Stoneygate Lane, Felling, Gateshead, in September 2011.

Gateshead Magistrates’ Court heard the line had been stopped while an engineer investigated a mechanical problem.

While this was happening, the 52-year-old woman went to the rear of the machine to re-thread one of the bobbins.

“When the engineer finished, he shouted that he was going to re-start the machine, but the worker was out of sight and did not hear him.

When the machine re-started, the woman’s hand was dragged into the moving parts of the machine.

Health and Safety Executive inspectors found there were no safeguards in place to stop the worker accessing the dangerous parts of the machinery, and that the accident could have been prevented if the company had provided effective safety measures on the plant machinery.

SHO123 Limited, of Jewry Street, Winchester, Hampshire, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £9,545 costs after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.

The court heard the woman had been unable to return to work.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Woodhall said: “The worker’s injury could have been avoided if there had been an effective guard in place, and if the SHO123 had continued with a planned programme for the installation of safety guards on its plant and machinery.

“Unguarded or poorly guarded machinery is the cause of many injuries in workplaces across the country.

“In 2010/11, more than 1,000 people were seriously injured from contact with the dangerous moving parts of machines.”

He added: “Employees should not be exposed to risks to their safety through their work.”

This artilce is courtesy of the Sheilds Gazzete.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Asbestos safety often ignored in B.C.

WorkSafeBC writes hundreds of violations a year against contractors who fail to protect workers from exposure to cancer-causing asbestos building materials.

Since the beginning of 2010, Work-SafeBC has issued nearly 2,500 orders - the majority of them in the Lower Mainland - against construction companies that violated regulations designed to protect workers from exposure to asbestos.

During the three-year period, Work-SafeBC imposed 59 penalties totalling $490,719, according to data provided to The Vancouver Sun after a freedom-of-information request.

WorkSafeBC has been on a push to ferret out bad actors and created a special team of officers to inspect job sites in the Lower Mainland where asbestos was being removed.

While asbestos has largely been cleaned up in institutional and industrial buildings in British Columbia, the last danger zone is residential construction - particularly in the Lower Mainland, where older homes are being bulldozed to put up condos or bigger, more expensive houses.

Asbestos remains the single largest occupational killer in B.C.

The two biggest fines - released publicly today as part of WorkSafe-BC's annual rollout of its penalty list - were handed out to one Vancouver-based repeat offender.

Skylite Building Maintenance was fined $105,000 in two separate cases for putting workers' health at risk from potential exposure to asbestos, the second-and third-highest Work-SafeBC penalties in 2012.

By last summer, WorkSafeBC had issued 237 written orders dating back to 2009 against Skylite for violations of the Workers' Compensation Act of British Columbia and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, court documents show.

In the most extreme cases, the company had also been penalized 19 times for repeatedly exposing people to asbestos fibres or putting them at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.

As of a few days ago, the company has made only one small payment of about $1,100 toward the $280,000 in fines it has racked up, according to WorkSafeBC officials.

Skylite Building Maintenance manager Mike Singh denies any wrongdoing and says he has been singled out by WorkSafeBC and persecuted because he is Indo-Canadian.

"I do every effort I can, and they keep discriminating against me because I am brown," Singh told The Vancouver Sun.

Asked about the repeated violations numbering more than 200 and numerous penalties, Singh insisted he is following the regulations.

Singh has started a new asbestos removal company, Seattle Environmental Consulting. It's registered in his name, while Skylite is registered in his wife's name.

Seattle Environmental Consulting also continues to violate rules on the proper inspection and removal of asbestos, including in January, according to WorkSafeBC inspection records.

Singh also denies any wrongdoing by the new company.

On Friday, Singh showed The Sun an asbestos removal site in the 1600-block of West 59th Avenue in Vancouver where he said his new company is following all WorkSafeBC rules.

Orange tarps covered an entire home where stucco was being removed. The setup included two air filter units and a decontamination area that included a shower.

"We do it like this for every single job," Singh said.

WorkSafeBC had not checked this site Friday but has inspected 400 of the two companies' 600 projects, said officials.

WorkSafeBC cannot "take away (a company's) right to operate a business," so it uses a combination of education, orders to stop violations and monetary penalties.

There are other companies on the repeat offender list in the past three years: Globe Foundry, Hans Demolition, All Star Excavating and Demolition, Park City Homes, Mr. Bin Proposal, Arthur Moore and Effective Contracting.

WorkSafeBC has handed these companies two or more fines of between $2,500 to $27,000 in separate incidents. Other companies received multiple penalties but on the same date: Burnaby Engineering, Speedy Excavating and CSR Environmental.

B.C. Supreme Court documents concerning just one of Singh's asbestos-removal jobs show his lack of cooperation with WorkSafeBC authorities.

On May 7, 2011, a machine operator was standing by to knock down a home in the 1800-block of East 51st Avenue in Vancouver.

WorkSafeBC occupational safety officer Steve Penner was checking to ensure asbestos had been completely removed by Skylite Building Maintenance.

When Penner checked the building, he saw two types of floor tiling still in place that he believed to contain asbestos. He questioned Shawn Singh (Mike Singh's son) of Skylite Building Maintenance, who had signed a clearance letter saying the building was free of asbestos.

Singh's response: "I glanced around."

Penner shut down the work site and asked the machine operator for the survey and clearance letter, which he had looked at earlier.

Singh shouted at the operator not to give them to Penner.

Singh then took the documents from the operator and left the site.

Later testing found asbestos throughout the building.

When asked about the incident where his son, Shawn, refused to hand over the clearance documents, Singh said there were no documents. "They assume things," said Singh.

Last year, as a "last resort," WorkSafeBC obtained a B.C. Supreme Court petition against Skylite, Seattle Environmental and the Singhs in an effort to get a judge to order the companies and their principals to not expose people to asbestos.

Now, if the companies expose workers to asbestos, there is a possibility the Singhs can be slapped with contempt of court charges, which bring the possibility of jail time.

Another asbestos removal contractor who repeatedly flouted the rules, Arthur Moore, was handed a 60-day jail sentence on Jan. 24, 2012 after he ignored a B.C. Supreme Court order to stop exposing young employees to asbestos.

"It's one thing to disobey the board, it's another thing to disobey the court," said Scott Nielsen, WorkSafeBC's director of litigation.

WorkSafeBC officials say the continued enforcement against the successor firm, Seattle Environmental, is part of building a case to take back to court.

"We anticipate returning to the courts in the coming weeks," said Work-SafeBC spokeswoman Donna Freeman.

Singh says he will fight any court action.

Asbestos can be found in more than two dozen types of older home building materials, including drywall filling compound, loose insulation, flooring, textured walls and ceilings, stucco, and roof felt and shingles.

There are more than 2,000 home demolitions in Vancouver, Richmond, Surrey and North Vancouver each year, nearly half of those in Vancouver alone, according to figures provided by the municipalities.

"Those people who were exposed (to asbestos) years ago are now dying. What we want to do is prevent those workers of today from any exposure. And we believe we can eradicate asbestos disease in the future if we ensure exposures aren't happening today," says Al Johnson, WorkSafeBC's vice-president of prevention services.

Asbestos is known as the silent killer.

The tiny fibres - used in materials between the 1950s to 1990s because they are a good insulator, strong and resistant to chemical erosion - cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Among the hundreds of materials asbestos was used in are floor tiles, drywall taping compound, mechanical insulation and textured decorative coatings found on ceilings.

Asbestos-related disease - which can take decades to surface - is the No. 1 occupational killer in B.C., responsible for the deaths of 512 workers between 2002 and 2011, according to WorkSafeBC figures.

University of B.C. professor Karen Bartlett says there is no question that lung cancer, particularly mesothelioma, and a lung disease called asbestosis, is elevated in workers who have been exposed to asbestos during their jobs.

She noted that it can take 10 to 30 years for the diseases to show up.

"It is cavalier for a construction company not to take this seriously," said Bartlett, an expert in occupational and environmental health.

This article is courtesy of the Vancouver Sun.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Worker injured in fall at Orangeburg warehouse

Federal workplace safety officials have been called in to help investigate an accident this morning in which a man was injured in a 20-foot fall at an electronics company distribution center in Orangeburg, according to Orangetown Police.

A 31-year-old man working at Crestron electronics, 88 Ramland Road, fell at about 9:26 a.m. and suffered a criticial head injury. Police said the man was using a fork lift and climbed onto a rack that was 20 feet above the floor.
Police said it appears the worker lost his footing as he was moving between storage racks and fell to the concrete floor, hitting his head.

The worker was treated by members of Rockland Paramedics and was taken to Nyack Hospital by members of South Orangetown Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Orangetown police notified the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and town officers are awaiting their arrival at the site of the accident.

Crestron is a manufacturer of control and automation systems for homes, offices, schools, hospitals, hotels and other industries. The company has hits headquarters in nearby Rockleigh, NJ.

Crestron opened its 100,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center in the Ramland Road industrial park in April 2012. In announcing its opening, Crestron said the facility features three wire-guided turret truck lifts and a new warehouse management software system.

This article is courtesy of Nanuet Patch.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Fife councillor says mining union legal bill is ‘ridiculous’

Former miners have been urged to dig deep to help pay a massive £8 million legal bill incurred during a failed compensation claim.

Around 40,000 letters have been sent out by National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Scotland warning of its potential demise unless it receives financial help.

Elderly miners who took the Westminster Government to court in a test case have also been told they may be pursued individually as the state seeks to cover its costs.

One horrified ex-miner who was involved in the bid to secure compensation for miners’ knee declared he would go to jail before paying thousands of pounds in costs.

However, Bob Young from Dunfermline has backed the union in its efforts to raise funds – and has already donated £50.

The 69-year-old is one of thousands of former miners suffering from osteoarthritis of the knees as a result of crawling around in cramped conditions underground.

He was one of 900 from across the UK, including 100 from Scotland, involved in the unsuccessful test case last year. The NUM has now been hit by a huge £8m legal bill, around £850,000 of which must be paid by the Scotland area.

Mr Young is plagued by pain in his knees after working for several years in tiny seams at Comrie Colliery.

“Every miner who worked on the faceline at Comrie is affected by this,” he said.

“The doctors have put it down to arthritis but I’m in no doubt that being on your knees all day will have an effect.

“The NUM selected people who were really bad for the test case but while the Government lawyers acknowledged there was a problem, they argued the case was time-barred and mentioned the harsh economic times.”

He added: “I’ve sent my cheque away. I know everybody isn’t in the same financial position but it’s a case of paying what you can.”

Mr Young, who now represents Dunfermline Central on Fife Council, expressed doubts the Government would ever pursue individuals, but stated: “I’ll go to jail before I pay a big bill.

“The union should be asking for a breakdown of how exactly the lawyers have come up with this £8m bill. It wasn’t like they were dealing with thousands of us.

“It was just specific cases and I don’t understand how they’ve managed to rack up such a huge bill. It’s ridiculous.”

Scottish president Nicky Wilson said the costs incurred were “quite frankly staggering” but revealed an interim payment of £100,000 had already been paid to the Government.

“That payment has all but exhausted the union’s cash reserves,” he said, adding that the NUM (Scotland) was unlikely to have sufficient assets to pay its full share.

“The union’s lawyers have made those representing the Government aware of the position,” said Mr Wilson.

“An initial response makes mention of pursuing the elderly Scottish miners involved in the case individually, a suggestion that in my view is nothing short of shameful.”

Mr Wilson has now written to every former union member who has benefited from the union’s past efforts to secure compensation for chest diseases or vibration white finger.

He has also written to miners’ relatives in a bid to establish a fund to meet the debt and avoid the Government pursuing individuals.

“Without financial assistance that is a real prospect, as is the demise of the NUM (Scotland) in the face of its proud and lengthy history,” he said.

Quashing fears from some recipients that the letter was a hoax, the president made it clear no one should feel obliged to donate, given the difficult economic times, but suggested a donation of £20 from everybody would go a long way to clearing the union’s liability.

This article is courtesy of The Courier.