Learning from HSE enforcement experience
These pages summarise HSE prosecutions and enforcement Notices related to maintenance between the period May 2010 and October 2011. The information was drawn from HSE live operational databases current at the time so it is possible that there could be minor discrepancies between these and HSE's subsequent published official statistics.
Recent enforcement activity
In September and October 2011, 79 companies or individuals were found guilty and fined as a result of being prosecuted by HSE. Six of these prosecutions were related to maintenance work:
A worker was killed when he was crushed between the rollers of a potato harvester as he was replacing the rubber sleeves on the machine. His employer had not conducted a proper assessment of the risks involved in carrying out maintenance and testing work on the potato harvester and had no safe system of work in place for maintenance.
A worker drowned after falling into a water-filled sump at a power station. He had been one of a team of three working to remove sludge and debris from part of a cooling tower. The enclosed area where the work was taking place was poorly lit and noisy and conditions were wet and slippery. His employer, a maintenance contractor, had failed to have in place a safe system of work.
Two dock workers suffered injuries in a high voltage electric shock when they were trying to fix a crane. The maintenance worker was temporarily blinded – and is now scarred permanently - and both he and an electrician were burned. Two other men working on the job could also have suffered burns as a result and all four could easily have been killed. None of the men had received adequate training or been given sufficient information about the electricity supplies to the dockside cranes. All four workers were put at risk because their employer did not have procedures in place to ensure electrical work was carried out safely.
A worker had to have two toes from his right foot amputated when he became entangled in machinery inside a grain reception pit as he was trying to empty rainwater. His employer had not carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment or provided a safe system of work for the work.
A workman dropped a reflector whilst he was investigating a faulty street lamp and it hit a toddler who was being pushed in her pram beneath the lamp. The toddler was hit on the head and needed stitches to her wound. The workman had not put up temporary barriers to segregate pedestrians from the work around the lamp. He had been properly trained by his employer but had failed to follow this training.
A handyman was exposed to asbestos-containing material while carrying out work on a property managed by a letting agent. As he was removing a sheet of material from the underside panel of a damaged roof, he realised it was asbestos-containing insulation board. The sheet was broken during removal and the surrounding area was contaminated with asbestos debris. The handyman had not been given any indication that asbestos was present in the property; no risk assessment had been carried out or method statement compiled and the letting agent had made no attempt to ensure that the handyman was competent to identify or work with asbestos.
In September and October 2011:
3 Prohibition Notices were served in relation to maintenance work on fragile roofs.
4 Improvement Notices were served in relation to maintenance work for:
- securely isolating balers from power sources during cleaning, maintenance and repair activities;
- suitable and sufficient assessment of risks from maintenance activities;
- safe access to a roof to enable maintenance work on refrigeration units.