Week Commencing 23/10/2023 – In The News

Companies fined after labourer fractures skull

Two companies have been fined £46,000 in total after a labourer from Runcorn fractured his skull.

The man had been working on a new build house when he fell through a stairwell on 3 March 2021.

He was working for Total Brickwork (UK) Ltd at a construction site run by Challenger Building Services Ltd on Okell Street, Runcorn. The two companies had been working on the construction of four new semi-detached and five terraced houses at the site.

The 46-year-old, who was 43 at the time, was on the first floor in one of the new terraced properties after being instructed by the director of Total Brickwork to clear up debris and mortar that had been left behind by bricklayers.

He had climbed up the first floor using a ladder at the stairwell opening, which had been covered with temporary boards. The boards were slid apart to allow access to the first floor.

Intending to sweep the debris down the stairwell opening, the man lifted up one of the temporary boards and stepped forward as he was going to lean it against a wall.

However, he fell through the stairwell opening onto the ground floor below as there were no floorboards underneath the temporary boards.

He fractured his skull, sustained multiple broken ribs and needed a plate to be inserted into his collarbone.

Read more on the HSE website.

Shout test to protect workers’ hearing

Research on noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) shows around a fifth of the British working population could be exposed to high noise levels while doing their job.

While Britain has seen new cases of occupational deafness significantly drop over the past decade, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is urging workplaces to consider the shout test to manage noise at work and ways to give workers’ ears a break.

HSE’s noise expert Chris Steel said, “If you are shouting at work and can’t be heard from two metres away, the chances are there’s a noise issue. Try it out for yourself and see if you can be heard.

“Preserving hearing at work is crucial as noise can cause temporary or permanent hearing damage.

“But there needs to be a balance. While too little noise reduction could cause hearing damage, too much could isolate the worker and lead to accidents.”

The issue of noise at work is the subject of a scientific report recently discussed by specialists in the field.

The Workplace Health Expert Committee (WHEC) report says about 20% of the working population in Great Britain could be exposed to high noise levels (>85 dBA).

The report goes on to say that while there are limited statistics on the prevalence of noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) in Britain, the most likely affected groups of workers are those who have been employed in the armed services, shipyards, construction, and agriculture.

Learn more about the research on the HSM website.

HSE to visit farms as part of national inspection campaign

Farmers are being reminded they must change their attitude towards safety as Britain’s workplace regulator readies itself for a wave of inspections in the coming months.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will visit farms across England, Scotland and Wales as part of a push to change the culture in the industry and check for compliance with long standing legal requirements.

People on farms are 21 times more likely to be killed in a workplace accident than other sectors.

In total, there have been 161 deaths on Britain’s farms over the last five years – an average of 26 people each year. This includes members of the public and children.

The visits, from this week to next April, will focus on the main causes of death in farming, including working with cattle, operating and maintaining vehicles and falls from height.

They will also look at risks to members of the public, which often means the management of cattle around public rights of way, as well as child safety on the farm.

HSE plans to carry out 440 visits during the campaign.

Visit the HSE website to learn more.

Major new fuel source ‘could replace any diesel engine globally and cut all CO2 emissions’

A new fuel could transform the internal combustion engine market in the coming years, with one expert claiming it could “replace any diesel engine globally”.

Paul Quickenden has worked with ammonia for around 20 years, as it can be used to store hydrogen, given the storage difficulties that still exist.

The ammonia-powered fuel cells were previously used to power mobile phone masts in off-grid areas.

However, despite the use of ammonia at the time, it was very expensive to run, with Quickenden saying it was not economically viable.

Speaking to GB News South-West England reporter Jeff Moody, he said: “One day the penny just dropped. Why don’t we just burn it in an engine?

“There’s nothing wrong with an internal combustion engine, it’s the fuel that needs to be changed.”

After years of working on the project, the outcome was the LetAq ammonia hybrid system, which produces zero emissions.

Experts are also praising its competitive price and the advantages for the user, with it taking just two minutes to refuel.

Read more about the new fuel source on the GBNews website.

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