Crew member dies at pop concert

A crew member has died in Kent after falling backstage at an open-air concert by Pop Idol winner Will Young.
The man suffered severe head and facial injuries in the fall at Rochester Castle. Police placed at cordon around the scene of the accident and the man, who was in his 40s but has yet to be named, was taken to hospital at around 6pm on Thursday.
An appeal was made over the public address system appealing for witnesses to the incident before the concert began.
“Kent Police was called by South East Coast Ambulance Service to attend a concert at Rochester Castle and to reports that a man in his 40s had received serious injuries,” said a police spokesman.
“Officers attended at around 6pm and put a cordon in place and carried out an initial investigation. The man has since died from his injuries.”
Officers added that his death is not being treated as suspicious and a post-mortem examination is to take place.

HSE investigates two deaths involving gates

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said: “HSE has been assisting the police in South Wales following the death of a child in an incident involving an electric gate in Bridgend on Saturday. Inspectors have already been on site to start an investigation and will meet again today with South Wales police. It is too early to comment on what happened at this stage.
“HSE is also assisting police in Greater Manchester (GMP) following the death of Semelia Campbell in Moss Side last week. This is a separate incident and HSE inspectors and specialist inspectors with expertise in mechanical engineering have been on site to investigate.
“In Manchester, HSE and GMP have required that developments in the vicinity of the Maine Road estate, which have gates similar to those being investigated following the death of Semelia Campbell, are locked in an open position until inspectors can fully examine them and ensure there is no ongoing risk.
“HSE issued a safety alert to gate manufacturers and installers in February this year, reminding them of their safety responsibilities when designing, constructing and installing electrically powered gates, to minimise the risk of an incident happening.
“Should anyone have any concerns about electric gates on their development, they should speak to their management company or their installer, who have a duty to ensure the gates will stop safely should they be obstructed (also known as force limitation protection). They must ensure that the force limitation protection and other anti-crushing, shearing and trapping safety protection devices are correctly set and maintained.”

Premier League Aston Villa Fined

Mechanical Cleansing Services Ltd, based in Aston, had been contracted to work on the redevelopment of the Bodymoor Heath complex, near Sutton Coldfield, and had set two of its workers to the task of draining fuel tanks on the roof of an old building that was marked for demolition.

One of the workers fell through a fragile rooflight as he made his way towards a ladder to descend from the roof. He fell three metres to the ground below and broke bones in his heels. His injuries meant that he was unable to work for over six months. The football club, its contractor and the director of Mechanical Cleansing Services, Damon Roe, all admitted to health and safety offences at Stratford-on-Avon’s Magistrate’s Court.

The court heard that Damon Roe had failed to provide his workers with adequate information about access to the site and the safety risks involved. He was fined £1,000 for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and also ordered to pay £1,610 in costs. Aston Villa pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005, while Mechanical Cleansing Services Ltd were charged with breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Commenting on the case, HSE Inspector Carol Southerd said: “When working at height all workers must have adequate instruction, training and equipment. It is vital that risks are adequately assessed and managed before employees undertake tasks in hazardous locations. There was clear failure to warn the victim or his colleague of the dangerous condition of the roof or to provide safe access to the tank.”

Tombstoning – Jumping into the unknown

Jumping off cliffs, walls or piers into water is an activity which has attracted an increasing amount of media attention this summer. Ominously known as “tombstoning”, this perilous high-risk pursuit has gained popularity in recent months. Regarded as a thrilling and exciting experience by many, the act of tombstoning is fraught with risk. RoSPA has outlined some of the dangers:
  • Water depths alter with the tide – the water may be shallower than it seems, resulting in high-impact injuries and fatalities
  • Submerged objects such as rocks may not be visible
  • The shock of cold water can make it difficult to swim
  • It may be difficult or even impossible to get out of the water
  • Strong currents can rapidly sweep people away
  • There is a risk of missing the water completely and landing on rocks or concrete.
Tombstoning contributes to more than 200 serious injuries annually, with a further 15 fatalities being recorded. Most of the accidents occur in males, while teenagers are involved in over half of all incidents. Many of those who have survived tombstoning accidents have been left paralysed or brain damaged.
RoSPA advises anyone considering tombstoning to check for hazards in the water. Rocks or other objects may be hidden and hard to see. Ascertain the water’s depth – a jump of ten metres requires a depth of at least five metres. Never jump while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Peter Cornall, RoSPA’s head of leisure safety, said: “We can see the attraction of tombstoning and why people do it. But because of the nature of jumping from height into the water, particularly at coastal locations, it is extremely hazardous

Work bullying ‘leads to ill-health’

Workplace bullying has a significant impact on stress and psychological health of employees, research has found.
A study by the University of Sheffield found that bullying from organisational insiders, such as colleagues, subordinates and superiors, had the most salient health effect for employees, significantly influencing levels of stress reported seven months later.
About 39% of employees in the study said they had been frequently (either weekly or daily) bullied by their colleagues, subordinates or superiors in the past six months.
The study – funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) – also found that enhancing personal optimism and self-esteem in work-based training programmes could help limit the negative impact of bullying on employees. Christine Sprigg, Lecturer in Occupational Psychology at the University’s Institute of Work Psychology, who led the study, said: “The evidence of the relationship between employee ill-health and workplace bullying is clearly shown by our data. “But more importantly, we find that there might be workplace interventions, for example working to boost employee self-esteem, that can help to lessen the impact of other people’s bad behaviour at work. We look forward to investigating this further.” The study will be presented for the first time at the Institute of Work Psychology’s Conference in Sheffield on 30 June 2010.

Gas leak forces centre evacuation

The David Lloyd centre in Aberdeen was evacuated on Sunday and one member of staff was sent to hospital for treatment after fears he had inhaled the chemical gas. Police, fire and rescue services and a hazardous chemical team were called to the scene in the city’s Garthdee district just after 3pm.
In a statement on Sunday night Grampian Police said: “One member of staff was reported as having inhaled some fumes.”
“An exclusion zone around the location was implemented and a large number of members of the public, including members of staff, were evacuated, pending a full assessment by Grampian Fire and Rescue Service.”
The centre has a 25m swimming pool and a children’s indoor splash pool. A paramedic unit that attended the incident took the male employee to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. The sports centre remained closed while investigations were carried out to establish how the incident occurred. Some members of the public who were evacuated stayed in the area awaiting access to their belongings.Police later said the incident had been confirmed as a minor “accidental spillage of chemicals” in a confined area of the centre. The 23-year-old staff member was released from hospital after receiving treatment for some minor chest discomfort. The facility was later declared safe, allowing staff and the public to re-occupy the building.

Businesses urged to revisit fire safety obligations following New Look case

Businesses must take a fresh look at their fire safety obligations after a £400,000 fine imposed on fashion retailer, New Look, was recently upheld by the Court of Appeal, a law firm has warned. Shoosmiths says that following the judgement companies will now ignore fire safety regulations “at their peril”.
Partner and regulatory specialist, Ron Reid, stressed that the fine was imposed because of New Look’s failure to control risk; not because anyone had been injured in a fire at its Oxford Street store in London, which forced around 400 staff and customers to be evacuated.
Although no one was injured in the 2009 blaze, it was later found that there was an inadequate risk assessment, a lack of trained fire marshals, and that escape routes were not clearly identified and were obstructed, sometimes by combustible materials.
New Look was also criticised for having just one fire safety advisor for a group comprising of more than 600 shops. This, together with the fact the risks could have been removed at relatively little cost or inconvenience, showed a dismissive attitude towards its fire safety obligations, according to the court.
None of these factors contributed to the fire itself, but in rejecting New Look’s appeal against the fine, Shoosmiths says the court sent a clear message that those in control of premises subject to the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 must treat it seriously.
New Look’s prosecution flowed from numerous breaches of the Regulations, which were consolidated into two offences:
  • Failure to identify via appropriate assessment of the specific risks posed to individuals, the precautions necessary to ensure compliance with the regulations
  • Failure to ensure that employees were provided with adequate safety training.

New Look was fined £250,000 and £150,000 respectively, and ordered to pay the £136,000 prosecution costs.The court said the lack of competent fire marshals to coordinate the evacuation revealed New Look’s failure to put in place an organised system and shortcomings in fire drill and staff training. The court acknowledged that £400,000 was severe, but did not deem it to be disproportionate to the circumstances.

The judge said:

“The absence of death and injury is plainly an important matter in this case, but I consider there are circumstances in which a court may not need to wait for the onset of human tragedy to send out a clear message that safety of customers and staff, or indeed anyone who may be affected, must be regarded as of paramount importance.”
Shoosmiths’ Ron Reid said:
“The court’s message appears to be that allowing continued fire safety risks creates a further risk of almost unrivalled proportions to individuals, and that this should be reflected in any penalties.”
In passing sentence, the court’s three principal considerations were:
  • the seriousness of the breach;
  • the capacity of the organisation to meet the fine; and
  • the need for the fine to make an impact on shareholders and senior managers.
Reid said:
“The hefty fine removes any doubt that retailers, and other organisations responsible for fire safety, cannot be complacent when it comes to complying with the Regulations. This penalty was imposed because of a failure to control risk rather than as a result of injury. “Those controlling premises subject to the Regulations must review current policies to ensure compliance, and consider the structure and layout of their premises and what goes on in them. “Whatever the opinion about the level of fine, there’s no question that managers ignoring or failing to address fire safety risk obligations now do so at their peril.”

Naked Fire: A group of naturists in Throckley

A group of naturists in Throckley, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne, alerted fire and rescue authorities after they noticed several burning barrels of illegally dumped chemical waste near their clubhouse.
A total of 16 containers, which were individually filled with acetyline, oxygen, propane and butane, had been deposited near a motorway about 400 metres from the Tando naturist club.
Club secretary Micheal Daly commented that “It was irresponsible to the point of criminal but luckily we were never in danger.” Members of the club were assured they did not need to evacuate after fire crews established the chemicals were non-explosive. Firefighters were called around 3.30pm on Monday, where they used a hose reel to dampen out the flames and cool the fire. Around 50 firefighters attended throughout the afternoon and evening. It was out by 8pm.

Fire at Royal Mail conference centre

Around 50 firefighters tackled a substantial blaze at a Royal Mail conference centre in Rugby earlier this week.
Firefighters were alerted to the fire at the Coton House Conference and Management Centre at 7.30am on Tuesday. On arrival they saw that the fire was well alight on the first floor and roof of the two-storey Georgian manor house. The blaze, which was under control by 11am the same day, took 12 appliances to tackle. An investigation into the cause has been launched.