From the archive: Just so you know, this article is more than 3 years old.
In May 2011, David Spurgeon was working alone, fixing a telephone fault in the roof void of a block of flats in Tower Hamlets. He lost his balance and fell through the ceiling, landing on a concrete stairwell 7 m below. He broke his back and both ankles.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found management failures by BT, including inadequate planning of work taking place near fragile surfaces as well as checking that it was carried out safely.
At the Old Bailey, BT was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Safety and Health and Work Act. It was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £98,914.
In court the judge criticised BT for attempting to blame the incident on its engineers, stating that the company's approach was "not necessary, misplaced and unfortunate".
As we reported earlier this week, David Spurgeon was in the roof void of a block of flats in Tower Hamlets, east London on 17 May 2011. He was fixing a reported telephone fault in a distribution point when he lost his balance and fell through the fragile ceiling tiles. He managed to hold himself suspended for a short while before dropping 7 m onto the concrete stairwell below.
Teesside Crown Court heard how the two BT Openreach engineers were working at the company’s Darlington Automatic Telephone Exchange. One of the engineers was installing a cable in a ceiling level cable tray to the main distribution frame – which connects equipment to cables – on the ground floor. The engineer was standing on a stepladder reaching up to the cable tray which ran beside the lighting system. He fell off the ladder and was taken to hospital with serious head and back injuries.
Health – the key to productivity, which was completed by 306 manufacturing companies covering 61,705 employees, revealed that 41% of companies say that long-term sickness absence has increased over the last 24 months. This is consistent with EEF’s 2015 survey which uncovered the largest increase in long-term sickness absence in five years. According to EEF, tax breaks would encourage more employers to pay for private medical treatment for employees and ease some of the pressure on the National Health Service (NHS).
On 23 April 2014, William James was tipping animal carcasses from a compartment of the twin-hinged-door trailer covered with a tarpaulin. He climbed onto a gantry to roll back the tarpaulin with the intention of tipping out a second load, unware that a pig carcass had become stuck between the compartments.James mounted the trailer and attempted to dislodge the blockage with a shovel. He was quickly overcome by the toxic gases, which contained hydrogen sulphide and by the reduced oxygen atmosphere.
Rodd McFarlane, 20, was carrying out repairs at Waulkmill Cottage in Perth and erected a tower scaffold for repointing work. On 2 August 2012, McFarlane was on the scaffold when a gust of wind blew one of the 240v electricity power lines supplying the cottage. It brushed against his back and he instinctively turned and grabbed the live wire. The current made him unable to let go for a few seconds. He sustained burns to both hands, requiring graft surgery and a possible future amputation of one of his little fingers.
The Nick Brookes Recycling employee was working on an infeed conveyor which transfers waste brought by skip wagons onto a picking line. On 8 August 2013 he was dragged into the conveyor and his right arm had to be amputated up to his shoulder. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Chester Crown Court that the conveyor belt was in extremely poor condition, jammed frequently, and was not guarded. Workers were not sufficiently informed, trained or supervised.