Learning From Loss

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 14.17.20After yesterday’s (7 July) tragic news that five men hat died following an industrial accident at a recycling site in Nechells, former HSE inspector Alison Cook looks at what will happen now and how this highlights the need for businesses to remain aware of risks posed to persons on foot on site…

The scene in Aston Church Road, Nechells

This serious incident highlights the need for businesses to remain aware of risks posed to persons on foot on site.

The collapse or part collapse of a structure is foreseeable and something I have repeatedly investigated when working with the HSE.

First: Identify what the structure was designed to withstand and for how long. Are you using your structure outwith its design limitations or lifetime?

Secondly: Was it installed to the design specifications? Simple question but vital as changes in fittings, holding down bolts and reinforcement at installation will impact stability in use.

Thirdly: Have you visually inspected for obvious deterioration or changes? What modifications have been made, intentionally or accidentally?

In the interim you may want to swiftly risk assess your bays:

  • Domino effect – adjacent structures or stock piles impact the collapse potential by unintended additional load transfer and contact with additional structures
  • What energy is being withheld by the structure, stored energy potential
  • Lack of checks or inspection of structure
  • Poor escape route/options for persons in the area

The investigation into this incident will be looking at when the structure was installed, to what design specification, how it was used and what loads were imposed upon it over its lifetime. This is a criminal investigation led by the police with the HSE guiding them, in accordance with the Work Related Death Protocol document.

This means they will be looking to understand:

  1. Who owed the workers a duty of care?
  2. Was the duty of care breached?
  3. Did that breach result in the deaths?
  4. Was the breach so negligent as to be gross?

Then the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will form a view on how grossly negligent either individuals or companies were in their actions, or, inactions. You can be guilty by consent, connivance or neglect.

We can all make the waste industry safer if we embed risk management in decision making across business – from procurement to installation, use and decommissioning. People matter. Talk to me about this.

Legal Note: The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 places criminal duties upon companies if their risk management failings are linked to a work related death. Gross Negiligence Manslaughter charges against individuals are taken by the CPS.

Alison now works with mangosafety.co.uk and can be contacted on Alison.cook@mangosafety.co.uk

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