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November 2008 - HSE Crane Safety Warning after Liverpool Company is Prosecuted Following Death of a Welder


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today warned of the dangers of allowing cranes to operate over the heads of employees. The warning following the prosecution of a Liverpool-based company after a man was killed and another seriously injured after they were struck by a load that fell from a crane.


MRX Engineering Support Services Ltd, trading as Stackright Building Systems of Charleywood Road, Kirby was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £16,941 costs at Liverpool Crown Court to breaching S 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in that it failed to ensure the safety of itís employees. The company pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Knowsley Magistrates Court.


Welder Keith Wharton, aged 41, from Kirby was killed instantly and his colleague Christopher Cansfield, 31, from Bootle sustained severe injuries including a broken neck and leg in the incident on 8 March 2007.


HSE Inspector Iain Evans who investigated the incident said:


"Keith Wharton should not have died. His was an avoidable, pointless and unnecessary death in an environment where there were numerous safety issues. If the company which employed him had dutifully exercised its responsibility to ensure their safety, his family would not be here at court today grieving their loss.


"There is a very clear responsibility on employers and managers to safeguard their workers.  There is plenty of advice and guidance within industry and from HSE on how to comply with the law.  The failure to do so in this instance cost one man his life, and seriously injured his colleague."


The court heard that the Mr Wharton was killed and Mr Cansfield seriously injured when a steel lifting frame weighing more than half a ton fell from an overhead crane. There was no safety catch on the hook of the crane, which could have prevented the load from falling.  The company should not have allowed loads to be moved over peopleís heads and the crane operators had not been adequately trained in its safe use.



July 2008 - Sat-Nav Blamed for 300,000 Crashes


Satellite navigation systems are being blamed for 300,000 road accidents each year, according to research by DirectLine for the Daily Mirror.

The research found that over half of drivers now use satellite navigation devices which are causing increasing problems on the road.

Over 1.5 million drivers said that they had driven badly because they were consulting the devices, either by veering across lanes or making illegal manoeuvres.

"If a sat-nav gives you an instruction that is likely to endanger other road users, ignore it," said Maggie Game of Direct Line.

"Motorists must realise that, while they are a helpful navigation tool, they should not follow their instructions to the detriment of road safety."

One in 10 drivers said that the systems had caused them to make an illegal turn, double that number had lost track of traffic because they were distracted and one in four had been sent the wrong way down a one-way street.

Psychology professor Cary Cooper of Lancaster University said: "Some people are easily persuadable and will follow instructions, whether it is their wife or a computer telling them where to go.

"Even when information is being fed back to them, such as road signs that suggest they're on the wrong route, they won't believe it. They only admit mistakes when they're being winched out of a gully."



July 2008 - Handyman Fined for Smoking in Van


A painter and decorator who received a £30 fine for smoking in his own van has warned that British civil liberties are "going up in smoke".

Gordon Williams, 58, of Llanafan, near Aberystwyth, west Wales, was on the way to buy tea bags for his wife when he was slapped with a fixed penalty fine.

A passenger in his van, who had also just lit up, received a £30 on-the-spot fixed penalty notice under the new anti-smoking laws as well.

But the self-employed painter and decorator hit out claiming the fine was unjustified and unfair because his van is a private vehicle.

He has lodged an appeal with Ceredigion County Council and claims Britain is sleepwalking into a "Big Brother-style" society.

The blue Suzuki van belonging to Mr Williams was undergoing a routine check by police in Llanbadarn Fawr, outside Aberystwyth, earlier this month.

The married grandfather had just lit up when a Ceredigion County Council official approached him and dished out the on-the-spot fine.

He said: "I was just having a cigarette and causing no bother to anyone else. But this is like Big Brother is watching you."

A spokesman for the council said: "It would be inappropriate for Ceredigion County Council to comment on individual cases.

"The legislation allows for a right of appeal and the procedures in relation to this are set out in the notices."


     AMBER Newsletter - Issue 2: March 2008

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