December 2016

Latest audit technique - photographing under cookers!

Did anyone miss the November Dominews? No-one has mentioned its absence so maybe it is time to reduce or even stop the monthly newsletter? See the wind-down post below.

The level of fines in the extended Recent Cases may suggest that complying with health & safety should take priority over compliance with food safety (although one restaurant manager may disagree!). However, I would point out that the H&S cases were against larger companies than the catering establishments prosecuted for FS offences.

Handing over a Food Safety qualification certificate

Brexit and Health & Safety

As predicted in July and September Dominews, the Government have confirmed they will ensure workers protection rights originating from EU requirements will be continued in UK law after Brexit. Considering the history of UK health & safety law this should not come as a surprise. After all, the pioneer and bedrock of safety law (Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974) was drafted by a Conservative government and passed by the subsequent Labour government.

Recent Cases

£1.6m fine and £20,861 costs for the film production company that crushed Harrison Ford while making a Star Wars movie. Only the quick reactions of a prop operator in hitting the emergency stop button limited the injuries to a broken leg and dislocated ankle. The door that dropped on him was operated remotely and did not have local sensors to protect anyone in the vicinity – although the issue had been raised by the company health & safety officer.

£1.5m fine and £200,000 costs for the care home company where an elderly resident was killed when he fell down an emergency escape staircase that did not have any lights or a handrail. The home manager was given a 9 month suspended prison sentence and charged £20,000 costs. It is stated the company have now fitted keypads to prevent  unauthorised access to the staircase (but no mention of fitting lighting or handrails!).

£3m fine and £37,868 costs for the factory which, on two occasions, released highly toxic vapour clouds. It was extremely lucky that ’only’ one worker was killed and another suffered permanent lung damage. The Judge said the fine had been substantially reduced to reflect the early guilty pleas and the subsequent remedial actions.

£600,000 fine and £14,935 costs for the Principal Contractor and £400,00 fine with £14,935 costs for the contractor deemed responsible for a carpenter falling to his death from a temporary work platform. The platform (and other platforms on the construction site, had not been built in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

£300,000 fine and £8,903 costs for the recycling firm where an employee suffered a broken arm and leg when the conveyor belt he was kneeling on while repairing an industrial shredder restarted. The company had not adequately the enforced the safe stop process and had allowed poor practice to become the norm.

IOSH Magazine, November & December 2016

£6,740 in fines and costs for a children’s nursery after a routine inspection. The kitchen was described as filthy with a build up of dirt, gnawed materials and a large accumulation of mouse droppings.

An amazingly low £1,750 fine with £4,676 costs for the takeaway dirty surfaces and equipment, rusty food trays and badly scored cutting boards. The staff did not wear protective clothing and there were no food safety procedures.

The manager of a restaurant has been fined £2,400 with £746 costs after his restaurant was closed by an Emergency Prohibition Order. Cooked prawns and rice were stored in dirty, uncovered containers (not in a fridge), raw meat was stored above cooked meat (in a fridge) and a dirty, damp cloth was used to wipe food preparation surfaces. Going up a staircase with a filthy carpet and handrail led to a storeroom that was dusty with large numbers of cobwebs.

Failure to maintain a House in Multiple Occupation or to provide adequate fire protection have led to a landlord receiving a £24,000 fine with £18,000 costs. Penetrating damp, leaking windows and dangerous electrics were amongst the problems.

Environmental Health News, November & December 2016

Winding Down

Although I hope to continue working for a few more years (my father retired at 72), Domino Risk Management Ltd is starting to wind down. Associate consultants are no longer employed and I’m cutting back my working hours and office expenses (such as no longer paying subscriptions to unnecessary professional organisations).

Next on the hit list is the office phone. Most serious enquiries are via the website, and regular clients will have my home and mobile numbers, so it seems silly to pay for a phone line that is 95% used by people trying to sell me something (unsuccessfully) and blatant spammers (although I will admit, if I’m not busy, to getting some joy from seeing how far I can string them along!).

None of this will make any difference to my valued regular / retained clients and I shall continue to maintain my professional status and insurances.