Telecommunications company fined after workers injured

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A large telecommunications company has been fined over £600k as two of it’s engineers are injured by falling from height.

An investigation by the HSE has found that the work had not been properly assessed or planned, despite workers being exposed to such serious risks as working at height close to an electrical system.

One of the engineers was installing a cable through a hole on the first floor. In order to carry out this work he was working on a stepladder in amongst the lighting system. He felt a pain in his right arm and fell from the step ladder. He was taken to hospital with head and back injuries.

The accident was not properly investigated and later that day the work was allowed to continue. The second engineer continued with the work himself, from a different ladder. However he too fell to the ground and was taken to hospital with serious skull and back injuries.

The telecommunication company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,000.

HSE inspector Laura Lyons said after the hearing: “Work at height and working close to electrical systems needs to be properly assessed and planned so that adequate controls can be put in place.  This duty rests firmly with the employer. These life changing incidents could have been avoided if [the company] had provided safe systems of work and ensured that the electrical systems were properly constructed, maintained and tested.”

Understanding Stainless Steel Guardrails and How They Work

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It is loved for its high durability and versatility compared to numerous other metals. As such stainless steel is utilized in a vast range of industries for many different purposes. Homeowners have a unique preference for this metal especially when it comes to home improvement tasks. This is mainly because it is easy to maintain as well as sturdy. Besides being used for home improvement projects, stainless steel is also a standard component for fabrication of metal, production of bicycles as well as in the manufacturing of custom cars and ships.

It’s no wonder guardrails are made of stainless steel to offer the required level of protection. Stainless steel guardrails can be installed in different areas such as workstations, pedestrian walkways, and transformer areas. Due to the versatile nature of stainless steels, the guardrails made from this material can be used to protect the building from possible damage, minimise accidents along the roads and also protect equipment against forklift damages.

Stainless steel guardrails are perfect for installation in job sites before work begins. This is in compliance with the requirements of occupational safety and health administration. Apparently, employers or contractors should install guardrail if the job site poses a risk of workers falling six feet and above. In the event that you don’t wish to install guardrails on the job sites, you may resort to alternatives such as fall arrest or restraints systems.

Employers can choose from a wide variety of guardrails. The most common types have been discussed below:

  • Bolt in Rails- The noticeable brackets permit the sections of the post used to slide into the structure after completion of installation. This type of railing is highly accessible.
  • Bolt on rails typically entail the use of hand equipment and drills.
  • W-beam is very common, especially on the roads. Due to the enormity of the role they play, they are usually made from high-quality stainless steel. They are fabricated with steel and other suitable materials to shelter them from the consequences of harsh environmental conditions.

Factors to consider when installing guardrails

First and foremost, the top edge should measure between 39 and 45 inches above the area that your workers get to walk on. Employers must put into account even the tiniest elements such as the footwear of their employees. Remember, the safety of the employees is the top most consideration in this case. It is, therefore, important to take note of the size of the gaps left between the rails. Ideally, they should not be more than 19 inches wide. The last thing that you want is for your workers to slip between the floor and the rails. Lastly, the guardrails should be in a position to accommodate up to 200 pounds of pressure.

What’s involved in the Inspection of a Lifeline System?

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We live in an imperfect world, and it’s normal for things to go wrong. Accidents usually happen. Discussions surrounding the inevitable nature of accidents and injuries in the workplace are always accompanied by arguments that some of these incidents are completely non-preventable. In retrospect, arguments of such nature are in many instances uncalled for. Take for example the case of the occurrence of a manufacturing defect. While this can occur without any prior warning, the failure of equipment is attributed to poor planning or inspection or the lack of it altogether.

The majority of employees understand the importance of inspecting tools, scaffolds, and ladders. However, they prefer securing themselves to lifeline systems without giving it much thought. What most of them fail to appreciate is the fact that horizontal lifelines also need inspections and maintenance. What kind of inspection is done and when?

Appropriateness of the personal protective gear

A fall protection system is among the most critical parts of PPE. A full body harness, a restraint lanyard, anchor points and the connectors are the four most critical areas of the system. Minimal risk is ensured if all the four elements are appropriate to the job at hand and are also fully operational. The entire system could fail if one of the components is inappropriate. Sufficient inspection should be performed to make sure that all the elements of the system can comfortably handle the task being performed.

Proper functioning of the personal protective equipment

It is one thing to ensure that PPE is appropriate and another one to determine its functionality. Appropriateness entails determining if the gear or system is suitable for a given task. Another essential part of the inspection is to check if the components are working properly. This involves inspecting the parts to find out if there are any cuts, breakages or loose nuts and bolts. The functionality of the shock absorber should also be examined as it tends to deteriorate over time. A slight undetected or ignored fault in one of the parts of a lifeline system can mean the difference between saved and lost lives.

Inspections of this nature should be conducted on a regular basis. On average, the inspection of personal protective equipment should be carried out every six months or according to the recommendations of the manufacturers – depending on which one comes sooner. If working in extremely hazardous conditions, the inspection should be done after a minimum of three months. Managers, supervisors, and employees shouldn’t take checks of this nature lightly.