January 2017 – In the News

Look, No Hands

If warm words from governments were all that was needed to fuel driverless vehicles they might be all around us. Following the launch in Britain of the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) in 2015, this September a new inquiry under the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee was announced. This will report early next year on the government’s plans to “ensure that the UK is a world leader in developing, testing and deploying connected and autonomous vehicles” for road, sea and space travel.

In the US too, there is enthusiasm in government about the potential driverless vehicles could offer. The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a Federal Automated Vehicles Policy in September  in which it sets out its “excitement” about the potential for highly-autonomous vehicles. The UK CCAV’s consultation paper, Pathway to Driverless Cars, issued in July, echoes this attitude, noting how “excited” the government is by driverless technologies.

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Developer Revamped Temporary Works Procedures After Fatal Fall

Property developer St James Group has overhauled its procedures for managing temporary works on its projects, appointing an independent temporary works co-ordinator, after a carpenter fell to his death from a work platform at one of its sites.

The carpenter worked for Mitchellson Formwork and Civil Engineering, which was subcontracted by St James (part of Berkeley Group), which was principal contractor on the project. The companies were building two nine-storey mixed residential and retail units in Putney, south-west London.

Mitchellson’s workers were responsible for building the temporary platforms for the site that were fitted above stairwell and lift-shaft openings, and for constructing formwork for the in-situ cast concrete. They also worked with steel fixers, whose job it was to reinforce the concrete.

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Director Safety Prosecutions Triple

The number of company directors prosecuted for safety and health offences has more than tripled in a year, according to data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Figures obtained by law firm Clyde & Co under the Freedom of Information Act show that the HSE prosecuted 46 company directors and senior managers in the 12 months to 31 March 2016, compared with 15 in the previous 12 months. In contrast, the number of employees prosecuted by the HSE dropped from ten last year to one in 2015-16.

Thirty-four of the 46 people prosecuted were found guilty and this resulted in 12 prison sentences – the longest of which was two years.

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HSE Proposes Relaxed Risk Assessment Recording – A Deregulation Too Far?

Having been an HSE inspector for nearly 17 years (now ex HSE) my natural instinct is, and probably always will be, biased toward the regulator. I’m also acutely aware of the ridiculing of health and safety by the ignorant and ill-informed and the significant efforts by HSE to restore public confidence in ‘sensible’ risk management. Having declared that interest I’m concerned that the executive is now going too far.

The proposal is to revise INDG163 ‘Risk assessment – a brief guide to controlling risks in the workplace’ with regard the creation of unnecessary written risk assessments. The executive states on its website “A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork – it is about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. We want to put more emphasis on controlling risk and less on written assessments, without reducing standards.

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Asbestos Analyst Fined For Falsifying Documents

An asbestos analyst has been fined after he falsified an asbestos air clearance certificate, following licensed asbestos removal in Manchester.

Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Manchester and Salford Court House, heard how, on 19 November 2015, Mr Barrie Lyons, a well-trained asbestos analyst with 29 years of experience, was contracted to carry out the final inspection and air testing, following asbestos removal at a construction site in central Manchester.

Mr Lyons’ task included a thorough examination of the area where asbestos had been removed from, within the defined enclosure itself and the areas surrounding it. He also had a series of air samples to collect and evaluate, to ensure that the air was substantially free of asbestos.

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KFC To Pay Almost £1m After Two Employees Suffer Burns

Fast food restaurant chain KFC has been ordered to pay almost £1million after two of its employees suffered burns injuries at two Stockton Borough branches.

Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited was fined £950,000 and ordered to pay £18,700 in costs at Teesside Crown Court following the incidents in July 2014 and December 2015.

The court heard that on 14 July 2014, a 16-year-old employee at the business’s Teesside Park restaurant suffered serious burns to his hands and arms after he was asked to remove hot gravy from a microwave while he was not wearing protective gloves.

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Jaguar Land Rover Fined £900,000 After Worker Loses Leg

National car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover has been fined after a worker lost their leg following a car collision on the production line.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that on Sunday 8 February 2015 at Jaguar’s Lode Lane plant in Solihull, a Range Rover Sport vehicle was driven toward the start of the production line, an event that normally happens 48 times an hour. On this occasion the delivery driver lost control of the car and collided with the rear of another vehicle he had just delivered, causing a four car shunt.

At the same time a worker was crossing the production line and became trapped between the second and third cars. His injuries resulted in the amputation of his right leg above the knee. Two other employees also suffered minor injuries.

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