Why health & safety is important to me by Ken Stevens

Ever since I was born in 1962, the number of people killed in the UK has continually fallen until last year when the number increased from 136 in 2013/14 to 142 in 2014/15. The increase maybe a blip but may also be a consequence of an improved economy & more people in work. I often get asked why I work as a Health & Safety Consultant and the simple most important answer I can give is that I want people to go to work & then go home safe to their families. Unfortunately last year 142 people did not do that.

One recent and extremely sad case is that of Cameron Minshull; a 16 year old apprentice who was fatally injured when he became entangled in a lathe he was operating. Cameron had been working for Huntley Mount Engineering Ltd for one month when the fatal accident occurred. He was extremely proud that he had gained work as an apprentice in an engineering company.

The company and its senior management allowed him to work on dangerous and defective machinery. Not only was Cameron put to work on machinery without any meaningful supervision but he was provided with limited training.

The court heard it was normal practice at the firm for young apprentices to clean the lathes with emery paper while the machinery was still running. This should not have been possible but safety guards had been disabled, a practice which was “dangerous in the extreme”.

Youngsters were simply warned to roll their sleeves up when cleaning the lathes.

Cameron was given oversized overalls that did not fit him properly. He was cleaning a lathe when he got caught in the machinery, with parts revolving at up to 2,800 times a minute.

Cameron’s upper body was then pulled into the machinery causing “catastrophic and lethal” injuries to his head and face, the court heard. The risks were obvious and Cameron’s death could easily have been prevented.

Cameron’s Mother came to pick him up from work at the end of the day and she was met by two policemen. Her son was pronounced dead in hospital two hours after the accident

Huntley Mount Engineering Ltd was sentenced for the corporate manslaughter of Cameron. In addition, Company Director Zaffar Hussain was sentenced for an offence under sections 2 and 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and company Supervisor Akbar Hussain was also sentenced for an offence under section 7 of the same act.

Lime People Training Solutions Ltd, who were paid £4500 by the government per placement, were sentenced for an offence under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. If Lime People Training Solutions Ltd had complied with health and safety requirements, they would have realised that the company was a wholly unsuitable placement for any apprentice, let alone a boy of 16 years, operating a system of work that was grossly unsafe.

Sentencing details:

  • Huntley Mount Engineering Ltd. fined £150,000
  • Lime People Training Solutions Ltd. fined £75,000
  • Zaffar Hussain sentenced to 8 months imprisonment and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years
  • Akbar Hussain sentenced to 4 months suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and given a £3,000 fine

 KS HeadShot HatBy Ken Stevens CMIOSH

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