February 2017 – In the News

University Fined £400k After Experiment Nearly Kills Students

The University of Northumbria at Newcastle has been fined after two students fell seriously ill after a miscalculation in an experiment led to them being admitted to intensive care and requiring dialysis.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how students were learning about the effects of caffeine as part of a sports experiment. Part of the course included a practical exercise where volunteer students would take quantities of caffeine to demonstrate the impact.

Two of the volunteer students drank a solution with 100 times the amount that should have been taken as part of the experiment. They immediately suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, shaking and rapid heartbeat. They were rushed to hospital where their conditions were considered life threatening. Dialysis was required to rid their bodies of the excessive levels of caffeine.

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Amanda Telfer’s Mayfair Window Death ‘Avoidable’

The death of a lawyer crushed by three window frames that weighed more than half a tonne could have been prevented, the Old Bailey has heard.

Amanda Telfer, 43, was killed when the frames fell on her as she walked past a building site in Hanover Square, Mayfair, London, on 30 August 2012.

Four people and three companies deny a total of 13 charges over her death.

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Australian Man Trapped In Pond With Nose Just Above Water

An Australian man has survived spending hours struggling to keep his nose above water after his excavator rolled into a waterhole.

Daniel Miller, 45, had been riding the machine at his remote property 300km (180 miles) north of Sydney.

When the edge of the dam gave way, the farmer was pinned down by a bar on the three-tonne excavator.

Mr Miller said he adopted a yoga pose – arching his back for air – until a neighbour 500m away heard him shouting.

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Box Manufacturer Escapes £2.5m Fine After Exposing Workers To Unprotected Electrics

A packaging manufacturer has been served a reduced £297,000 fine after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector uncovered poor, longstanding practices involving electrics and machine guarding at the company’s premises in Northfleet in Kent during September 2014.

Under the sentencing guidelines the court could have set the penalty as high as £2.5m but the company’s poor trading position and swift remedial action led to a more lenient sentence.

On 18 September 2014, HSE inspector Robert Hassell visited the cardboard box maker W E Roberts (Corrugated)’s Northfleet premises after the company’s former health and safety officer tipped off the executive to poor safety practices. On arrival, the manufacturer’s then current health and safety manager backed up the complaint and Hassell served eight enforcement notices after identifying problems with machine guarding and the storage of materials.

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Plumber wins workers’ rights battle against Pimlico Plumbers

A plumber has won a legal battle for working rights in the latest significant court ruling over freelance operations in the modern workplace.

Gary Smith wanted to reduce his working days at Pimlico Plumbers following a heart attack.

The Court of Appeal agreed with a tribunal that said he was entitled to basic workers’ rights although he was technically self-employed.

The decision is the latest to side with workers in a flexible workforce.

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Modern slavery – be part of the cure, not the problem

More than 45.8 million people are in a form of modern slavery across 167 countries today, according to estimates from the Global Slavery Index.

Over half of that number come from five countries in particular: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.

Several of these countries, provide low-cost labour for markets in Western Europe, Japan, North America and Australia.

Businesses are being urged, by Arco, a leading safety company in the UK, to ask suppliers within their supply chain about their ethical assurance measures.

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Disputes Over Health And Safety Executive Costs Recovery Will Be Settled Independently

Disputes raised in relation to the ‘fee for intervention’ (FFI) costs recovery scheme operated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will in future be resolved by way of a “fully independent” process, the regulator has announced.

It intends to consult with “relevant stakeholders” on changes to its dispute resolution procedures, which are currently overseen by a panel consisting of two HSE members and one independent person.

The change follows an application for judicial review of the FFI dispute resolution mechanism, brought by facilities management firm OCS Group UK Ltd. In granting permission to proceed with the application, which is due to be heard in May, Mr Justice Kerr said that OCS had an “arguable” case that the regulator was “unlawfully, judge in its own cause when operating the FFI scheme; and that the scheme is either unlawful or being operated in an unlawful manner”.

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Bristol University Student Accidentally Made Explosive

University buildings were evacuated when a student accidentally made the same highly explosive substance that was used in the Paris terror attacks.

An investigation by Bristol University has found that triacetone triperoxide (TATP) was “unintentionally formed during a routine procedure”.

A cordon was set up around the university’s chemistry block during the incident earlier this month.

No-one was injured and a controlled explosion was carried out.

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