Week Commencing 21/06/2021 – In The News

Foundry Fined After Workers Exposed to Lead Dust

The inside of a church.A foundry has been sentenced to safety breaches after workers were exposed to harmful lead dust during the repair and refurbishment of church bells at St Peter’s church in Barton-Upon-Humber.

On 20th March 2019, part of the planned maintenance project involved stripping off rust and old paint from the metal bell frame and fittings. Work had been underway for some time before the old paint was examined and confirmed to contain lead.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and found that the workers had been using power tools to strip the paint and as result were exposed to harmful, excess levels of lead dust. In addition, the company did not have proper cleaning techniques and personal protective equipment (PPE) in place.

John Taylor Bell Foundry (Loughborough) Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1), of the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002. The company has been fined £13, 333 and ordered to pay £6,469.90 in costs.

Read more of the incident from the HSE’s press release.

May 2021 Sees Highest Carbon Dioxide Emissions on Record

A graph showing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere over the last 800,000 years.The latest data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit 419 parts per million in May. This figure is the highest measurement of greenhouse gas in the 63 years that data has been recorded at the Mauna Loa Atmospheric Baseline Observatory in Hawaii.

The news is severe because it means levels have now reached the dangerous milestone of being 50% higher than when the industrial age began. The 10-year average rate of increase also set a record, now up to 2.4 parts per million per year. This is also in spite of a year where air travel and industry has slowed because of the global pandemic.

The reasons appear to even though global emissions fell in 2020, it eas still too modest a decrease to make a big impact on overall global levels. When you remember that whilst emissions dropped wildfires were raging around the world which releases carbon dioxide, it negates the reductions.

In order to meet the goals of the Paris climate accords – to keep temperature rise to 1.5C – the United Nations Environment Programme report finds countries need to cut their global emissions by 7.6% every year for the next decade so there is still a lot of work to do.

Read more from the Guardian.

See more graphs like the above from Chartr.

Fall From Height Leads to Life-Changing Injuries for Worker

A ladder resting against a wooden surface, with its shadow reflected upon it in, in black and white.A Chesterfield-based construction company has been fined after a subcontractor hired to complete work on a roof fell from the roof joists to the concrete floor below, sustaining life-changing injuries.

On 19 June 2019, Bobby Oldham Construction Limited (BOCL) were contracted to complete work on a domestic extension in Nottingham. The work was to complete an extension to the rear of the property, which contained a skylight and wooden joists.  Work had progressed to the point where roof joists were being attached. The joists were accessed using a ladder, which then led to an unprotected trestle platform. The subcontractor was sat astride one of the joists when it gave way causing him to fall. He landed on the concrete floor below sustaining serious injuries including brain trauma and a broken neck.

An investigation by the HSE found that  the company had not properly considered the risks associated with this type of work nor planned the work at height carefully. If they had, the incident could have been easily avoided. The trestle platforms were missing suitable edge protection, and there was an absence of other suitable fall mitigation measures such as airbags. In addition, The work was not supervised, which would have identified the unsafe working methods, which could then be challenged by the company.

Bobby Oldham Construction Limited (BOCL)pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,515.

Read more on the fall from height from the HSE.

More Infectious Delta Variant Dominates UK COVID Infections

COVID-19 spelt out in small white tablets surrounded by microscopic viruses against a red background.UK coronavirus infections have risen slightly in the last week, with an estimated 119,000 people – up from 110,000 – now positive for the virus.

The Office for National Statistics figures, up to 12 June, show that UK coronavirus infections have risen slightly, with an estimated 119,000 people – up from 110,000 – now positive for the virus. They now suggest that one in every 540 people is infected.

The more infectious Delta variant accounts for almost all of the cases, says Public Health England, and infections are highest in younger adults and older teens.

However, the good news is that vaccines are still proving effective against the variant. According to latest data from PHE, a single dose of vaccine reduces a person’s chances of catching coronavirus and needing hospital treatment by about 75%, even with Delta circulating in the UK. And among people who had received the recommended two doses, the chances of catching and being hospitalised by coronavirus was reduced by more than 90%.

Read more about the variant’s effect on the UK’s COVID situation from the BBC.