Explorator Consulting :: Simple checks can avoid big problems
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ARTICLE BY

Andy Murdy

Simple checks can avoid big problems

I was reading through the January (I know it is nearly February but I’ve been busy) issue of Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) and it struck me that the size of fines and costs being handed down in the courts is substantial when compared to the relatively simple and cheap actions that would have prevented the incident occurring.

As an example, £300,000 fine and costs for a fatal fall is a lot of money.  The loss of a life is even more significant.  Yet the improvements required to prevent the incident happening may have been as simple as checking the ladder was in good order (it wasn’t), checking if the work was safe to be conducted using the ladder provided (it wasn’t), checking that the risk assessment was adequate (it wasn’t) or that the work-at-height policy was properly implemented (it wasn’t).  There was also no training given.  All simple to check and a check should have identified the deficiencies and probably prevented a fatal incident.

Or how about this one?  A worker cut through a cast iron pipe on a construction site.  He was unsure if he should do the work so checked and he was told by his superiors to go ahead.  He cut into the pipe which released gas which was ignited by the petrol-powered hand-held saw he was using.   He suffered severe burns to his face.  Later on there was a second explosion that demolished a large part of the construction site.  Gas explosions are seldom subtle in their effects…   The principal contractor was aware that there was a gas main entering the site but they hadn’t commissioned a detailed survey to identify the pipe run.  They also, incorrectly, informed the workers on site that the pipe had been decommissioned.  A simple cross check would have identified where the pipe was and the risks associated.  The company failed and apart from the disruption caused to the site and their neighbours they also received fines and costs totalling £121,000.

So, if you have something hazardous taking place it really pays to make some simple checks. 

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“The size of fines and costs being handed down in the courts is substantial when compared to the relatively simple and cheap actions that would have prevented the incident occurring.”

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