A scaffolding company has been sentenced today for safety breaches after a worker was crushed by a forklift truck.
Leeds Magistrates Court heard how in October 2016, an employee of Whiterose Scaffolding (Leeds) Ltd was using a forklift truck in the yard when the vehicle overturned, trapping him underneath it for some time. The employee sustained serious life changing internal injuries. He now lives with constant chronic pain and has severe mobility issues.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to provide training to their employees on the safe operations of forklift trucks, which would have included the importance of wearing seat belts. The company also failed to provide adequate supervision and monitoring of the forklift truck operators to ensure they were only operated by trained drivers and that safe driving techniques were followed.
Whiterose Scaffolding (Leeds) Ltd of Holbeck Lane, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £54,270 and ordered to pay £8000 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrea Jones commented: “The employee’s injuries were life changing and could have been fatal. The impact has been devastating on him and his family. Other employees were put at risk as a result of the company allowing fork lift trucks to be used without the appropriate training and monitoring of drivers.
“Those in control of work have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working”.
Furnace relining company, Calderys UK Ltd, has today been sentenced for failing to control exposure to both vibration and silica for its workers.
Leeds Crown Court heard the company reported two cases of employees suffering Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) in early 2017 and during the subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation it was found that no measures had been put in place to control exposure to vibration when using pneumatic tools. It was also found there was no health surveillance put in place to identify any early signs of effects on worker health. These failings had been going on from as early as 2006.
The investigation also found that between April 2004 and December 2017, no measures were implemented to control workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica while stripping and replacing furnace linings, and no health surveillance was put in place, despite previous advice from HSE indicating what was needed.
Calderys UK Ltd of Gildersome Spur, Morley, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 7(1) and 11(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. The company has been fined £60,000 with £4,864 costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Julian Franklin commented: “Exposure to vibration can cause HAVS, a loss of nerve function, strength and dexterity in the fingers which is permanent and untreatable while exposure to silica can cause silicosis, leading to impaired lung function, lung cancer and death. It can also lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD).
"Companies should know HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those failing to protect their workers.”
Two companies, Ortec BV and Mechantech Limited, have been fined after a worker fell from a warehouse racking system, suffering serious head injuries.
Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 1 February 2016, recommissioning work of a warehouse racking system was being carried out at premises on Stopgate Lane, Simonswood. While workiSSng on this project, one of the workers fell 10 metres from the top of the racking system onto the concrete floor below, sustaining significant head injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the main contractor Ortec BV had subcontracted the work to Mechantech Limited to undertake. There was no safe system of work in place as none of the workers had safety harnesses and there were no physical barriers to prevent anyone from falling. The investigation also found Mechantech Limited had failed in its duty to ensure the health and safety of its own employees as it had not undertaken any risk assessment for working at height (incorrectly assuming that main contractor Ortec BV had done so).
Ortec BV of Houtsingel 5, Zoetermeer, the Netherlands pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) and Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been ordered to pay fines of £300,000 and costs of £4,742.75.
Mechantech Limited of, Rossington, Doncaster pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) and Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been ordered to pay fines of £36, 666 and costs of £4,742.75.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Jane Carroll said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to develop safe working methods and to ensure that their workers have the necessary information, instruction and training in that safe way of working. “Had such a safe system of work been in place prior to the incident, the serious injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented”.
A dyeing company has been sentenced today for safety breaches after two separate incidents caused serious injuries to employees.
Leeds Crown Court heard how, on 27 August 2014, a worker was dyeing hanks of wool using a large tank and overhead crane when the hook block on the crane failed and the crane lid dropped into the tank. Boiling dye liquid spilled out splashing the employee and causing serious burns to his body.
Furthermore, on 15 January 2015, whilst clearing a blockage on a yarn scouring line, a worker’s clothing became caught on a rotating part. He became entangled in the machine and sustained serious chest and leg injuries.
Premier Hank Dyers Ltd of Bottoms Mill, Holmfirth, West Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for both incidents and was fined a £12,000 (£6000 for each offence) and ordered to pay £12,014.70 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Jacqueline Ferguson commented: “Employers must ensure that they properly assess the risks associated with dangerous moving parts of machinery and then apply effective control measures to minimise those risks. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) use of the Gangs Matrix led to multiple and serious breaches of data protection laws.
The investigation into the Gangs Matrix, a database that records intelligence related to alleged gang members, began in October 2017 after concerns were raised by Amnesty International.
The ICO found that, whilst there was a valid purpose for the database, the inconsistent way it was being used did not comply with data protection rules.
It has now issued an Enforcement Notice, compelling the MPS to ensure it complies with data protection laws in future and has given them six months to make these changes, which the MPS has accepted and already started to implement.
Deputy Information Commissioner of Operations, James Dipple-Johnstone, said:
“Protecting the public from violent crime is an important mission and we recognise the unique challenges the MPS faces in tackling this.
“Our aim is not to prevent this vital work, nor are we saying that the use of a database in this context is not appropriate; we need to ensure that there are suitable policies and processes in place and that these are followed.
“Clear and rigorous oversight and governance is essential, so the personal data of people on the database is protected and the community can have confidence that their information is being used in an appropriate way.”
The MPS’ operating model governs the use of the matrix across the Metropolitan area. Each of the 32 London boroughs operate their own Matrix, which are then compiled centrally to form a larger London-wide Gangs Matrix.
The personal data of people recorded on the Gangs Matrix includes; full names, dates of birth, home addresses, and information on whether someone is a prolific firearms offender or knife carrier.
The investigation found:
The MPS already has an action plan underway and has stopped sharing personal data on the Gangs Matrix with third parties, where there is no individual sharing agreement in place. They have committed to being more open about the database and are working with us to complete a Data Protection Impact Assessment.
The Deputy Commissioner added,
“I am pleased that the MPS has been co-operating with us and has committed to bringing the Gangs Matrix in line with data protection laws, and we will continue to work with them.
“I believe that by taking these steps and demonstrating that people’s data rights matter to them, the MPS will be able to build increased trust amongst their communities.”
Due to the timing of the case, it was dealt with under the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998, and not the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and 2018 Act that replaced it in May this year.
The ICO will also be launching a second investigation that focuses on how partners of the police handle information, such as that provided through the Gangs Matrix, and is already investigating a data breach at Newham Borough Council involving the Matrix.
Six month prison sentence for motor industry employee in first ICO Computer Misuse Act prosecution | ICO
A motor industry employee has been sentenced to six months in prison in the first prosecution to be brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) under legislation which carries a potential prison sentence.
Mustafa Kasim, who worked for accident repair firm Nationwide Accident Repair Services (NARS), accessed thousands of customer records containing personal data without permission, using his colleagues’ log-in details to access a software system that estimates the cost of vehicle repairs, known as Audatex.
He continued to do this after he started a new job at a different car repair organisation which used the same software system. The records contained customers’ names, phone numbers, vehicle and accident information.
NARS contacted the ICO when they saw an increase in customer complaints about nuisance calls and assisted the ICO with their investigation.
The ICO usually prosecutes cases like this under the Data Protection Act 1998 or 2018, depending on the individual case. However, in appropriate cases, it can prosecute under other legislation - in this case s.1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 - to reflect the nature and extent of the offending and for the sentencing Court to have a wider range of penalties available.
Mike Shaw, Group Manager Criminal Invesitgations Team at the ICO said:
”People who think it’s worth their while to obtain and disclose personal data without permission should think again.
“Although this was a data protection issue, in this case we were able to prosecute beyond data protection laws resulting in a tougher penalty to reflect the nature of the criminal behaviour.
“Members of the public and organisations can be assured that we will push the boundaries and use any tool at our disposal to protect their rights.
“Data obtained in these circumstances is a valuable commodity, and there was evidence of customers receiving unwarranted calls from claims management companies causing unnecessary anxiety and distress.
“The potential reputational damage to affected companies whose data is stolen in this way can be immeasurable. Both Nationwide Accident Repair Services and Audatex have put appropriate technical and organisational measures in place to ensure that this cannot happen again.”
Mr Kasim pleaded guilty to a charge of securing unauthorised access to personal data between 13 January 2016 and 19 October 2016, at a hearing in September 2018 and was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court.
Confiscation proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act, to recover any benefit obtained as a result of the offending, have been commenced and are ongoing.
Two firms that were behind nearly 600,000 nuisance calls attempting to sell home security systems to people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS), have been fined a total of £220,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office.
It is against the law to make marketing calls to numbers that have been registered with the TPS.
ACT Response Ltd of Middlesbrough was behind 496,455 live marketing calls to TPS subscribers and has been fined £140,000.
There were 128 complaints made about the company between January 2017 and February 2018.
“Didn’t get any other details but this number calls all the time, several times a day and seven days a week and it’s driving me mad.”
The script used by the company for making the calls, even asked people whether they were registered with the TPS.
The full penalty notice to ACT Response Ltd can be read here.
Another firm, Secure Home Systems (SHS) of Bilston, West Midlands, has been fined £80,000 for making calls to 84,347 numbers registered with the TPS between September and December 2017, using call lists bought from third parties without screening them.
People made 268 complaints about the company over a two-year period.
”I was angry and disturbed that they had obtained my number and ignored the fact that we’re registered with the TPS.”
The full penalty notice to Secure Home Systems can be read here.
Andy Curry, ICO Group Enforcement Manager, said:
“These fines should set alarm bells ringing and deter marketing companies across all sectors that are contacting people without their consent. It is a company’s responsibility to make sure that it has valid consent to make these calls.
“The TPS is there for a reason – to protect people’s privacy and ensure that marketing companies obey the law. Marketing companies failing to take the basic step of checking TPS can expect robust enforcement.”
The advice for people who receive nuisance marketing calls, emails and texts is to ask the company to remove their details from their lists, read the small print and be careful about ticking boxes which could give them consent to contact you and to report them to the ICO.
Companies that carry out electronic marketing and want to make sure they are complying with the law, should subscribe to the TPS for a fee to get the register of subscribers to screen their own call lists against. Further advice is available on the ICO website.
The ICO has the power to issue fines up to £500,000 to firms who carry out nuisance marketing under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).
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