Week Commencing 15/03/2021 – In The News

Global Engineering Company Fined After Employees Exposed to Chemical Spill

Glass tubes containing different coloured chemicals.The fabrication division of Nasmyth Technologies Limited has been fined after four employees were exposed to hazardous substances that caused significant ill health and time off work as a result.

On 9th October 2017, between 150 and 200 litres of a chemical preparation, that included hydrofluoric acid, spilled across a large area of the factory floor in Wimborne, Dorset. Four workers were involved in the clean-up that took several hours. They were provided with inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) and respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to undertake a clear up, for which they had no training. Some of them suffered ill health following the incident, which included an asthma attack, a severe headache, nausea, sore eyes and throat. One of the workers, whose symptoms persisted, was referred by his doctor to a specialist for treatment.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that:

  • there was significant non-compliance regarding the management of substances hazardous to health.
  • The company had failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment and had not prepared for this emergency situation.
  • RPE (face masks) provided did not have the correct type of filter for protecting against hydrofluoric acid gas.
  • Additionally, the type of RPE provided to workers relied on a good seal against the face in order to protect workers and no face fit tests had been undertaken to ensure the masks fitted the workers’ faces.  Furthermore, workers were unshaven meaning their beards or stubble prevented an effective seal of the RPE to their faces.

Nasmyth Technologies Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work 1974 Act. They were fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,551.

Read more on the case from the HSE.

Over 900 Sewage Leaks Detected By AI

Hundreds of previously unreported releases of raw sewage into UK rivers have been detected thanks to artificial intelligence, researchers say.

Scientists identified 926 “spill events” from two wastewater treatment plants over an 11-year period by employing machine learning. The researchers, who published their study in the journal Clean Water, trained a computer algorithm to recognise, through the pattern of flow through a treatment plant, when a spill was happening.

Wastewater treatment plants are permitted to release untreated sewage into rivers when there is exceptional rainfall. Storm tanks at a plant can become overwhelmed with rainwater and untreated wastewater overflows from the tanks into waterways. But there has been concern among environmental scientists and campaigners about the frequency of such raw sewage overflows.

The UK Environment Agency said it was “impressed by the accuracy” of the approach and there were “good opportunities should water companies wish to consider the model as a planning tool to help manage pollution and prevent incidents from occurring”.

Read more about the technology on BBC News.

Mattress Manufacturer Fined After Employee Dragged into Machine

Cogs in black and white.A mattress manufacturer based in Nottingham has been fined after an employee of the company suffered multiple injuries to his arm, shoulder, ribs and neck after he was drawn into a NG-06 Semi-Automatic Mattress Rolling Machine (MRM).

A HSE investigation found that:

  • Dreamtouch Mattresses Ltd failed to prevent access to the dangerous parts of machinery on the MRM. As a result, the common practice at the site was for employees to use their hands, and or arms when feeding and pressing mattresses on the unguarded rotating winding film reel.
  • Employees at the site confirmed there was no documented safe system of work or training for the use of the MRM.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £66,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,836.20.

Read more on the case from the HSE.

IOSH Leading Safely Course – 29th April

Benefits of IOSH Leading Safely course: Improve employee confidence and productivity, increase productivity, enhance corporate reputation and strengthen brand recognition.WA Management are pleased to announce that we will be running an IOSH Leading Safely Course on 29th April.

This will either be held remotely or in person, depending on COVID-19 guidelines at the time so please keep an eye out on our social media, blogs and newsletters for more information being released!

If you would like to attend the course you will need to book your place by 15th April so please get in touch to register your interest!