Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

A Common Health And Safety Oversight Costs A Life
Posted by David Cant on May 22, 2013
1 Comment

There’s a serious issue in the world of Health and Safety, and one we see far too frequently. It’s also an issue which has just cost BAE Systems £350,000 in fines, and one innocent man his life.

Very often we see businesses applying good Health and SafetyBAE Systems Metal Press advice complying with the HSE recommendations and requirements, and on a normal day to day basis things seem fine. But it’s far too easy to overlook one simple fact – day to day operations don’t always stick to a day to day plan.

One of the prime reasons why the use of machinery might be changed is the regular testing or maintenance which may be needed. It is often when testing, cleaning, repairing or maintaining equipment that new risks can arise which were never properly identified because the safety assessments were based only on normal operations.

It’s when abnormal operations are introduced that the real risks arise, because these are the times when the existing assessments are no longer relevant, and entirely new risk assessments need to be introduced, and a new Health and Safety assessment carried out.

Had this been done in the case of BAE Systems then one family in Hull would still have their son, father, husband and brother.

Routine Servicing Results In Death Of Engineer

Gary Whiting, 51, was a maintenance engineer at BAE Systems just outside Hull, and on 10th November 2008 he was part of a four man team required to carry out routine servicing on a large 145 tonne metal press. Mr Whiting was on one side of the press with one of the other maintenance engineers, while the other two engineers worked on the other side of the press, out of sight.

It was during this servicing that Mr Whiting entered the press, which is the size of a family home, to retrieve a piece of equipment. Unfortunately it was at this moment that the two engineers on the other side started a test cycle which caused the metal press to crush Mr Whiting, causing serious injuries from which he died later that day.

Serious Health And Safety Failings

On 21st May this year Hull Crown Court heard that BAE Systems had failed to implement appropriate health and safety protocols specific to this routine maintenance and servicing, including procedures to prevent activation of the press whilst someone was inside, facilities to stop the machine in the event of the entry of a person, guards on the doors, or even instructions to prevent this sort of tragedy, either verbal or written.

As a result of its failings BAE Systems has now been fined £350,000, and many people involved in the case have commented that given the serious failings on the part of BAE Systems they are surprised that no one has been killed or injured before.

It is all too easy to focus on Health and Safety and Risk Assessment based on normal day to day operations, and overlook the fact that these procedures are not always appropriate during abnormal operations such as testing and servicing.

Call Veritas Consulting today on 0800 1488 677 and let us help carry out a full workplace risk assessment of your business, including those areas too commonly overlooked, ignored or forgotten, yet which can still cost lives.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety, Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Services

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