Building Company Fined after Work Accident Injury

Home » No Win No Fee » Latest Personal Injury News » 2014 » 7 » Building Company Fined after Work Accident InjuryBuilding Company Fined after Work Accident InjuryA building company and the director of a roofing firm have been ordered to pay sizeable fines following a workplace accident that led to an employee suffering serious injuries.In 2012, a self-employed roofer had been under the control of John Donald of John Donald Roofing, which had been sub-contracted to carry out work on a building project by Right Angle Ltd.During work on a project in which three residential properties were being refurbished and extended, the unnamed worker was at one point clearing materials from a flat roof.He saw a piece of ply board that he thought was debris so he picked it up. However, the board was actually concealing a roof light void. The man, who was aged 28 at the time of the accident, ended up falling from a height of 5.6 metres.Multiple bones in his back were fractured and broken during the fall, while his thigh, lungs and diaphragm were bruised.The extent of the employee’s injuries meant he could not return to work for more than a year, and he has been left with a persistent back problem that requires treatment in hospital. This means he has had to seek employment elsewhere.HSE Work Accident InvestigationA work accident investigation launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the accident and a number of failings were identified at the building site.The HSE criticised John Donald and Right Angle Ltd for failing to take adequate steps to mark and protect voids in the roof.HSE Inspectors described the measures that had been in place as “totally unacceptable” and warned that many workers on the site could have experienced a similar accident. The HSE also identified a number of other shortcomings on the site, including open staircases without handrails and a lack of edge protection on scaffolding.In addition, excess rubbish and debris on the building site was said to have created numerous slip and trip hazards, while there were various fire risks with insufficient prevention measures in place.The HSE concluded that the defendants had not properly planned, managed or monitored the work, which meant that the accident had been completely avoidable.Right Angle Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was handed a £15,000 fine in a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. The company was also ordered to pay £5,375 in costs.In addition, John Donald admitted breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £4,000, plus costs of £3,695.Danielle Coppell, an inspector at the HSE, commented, “There were numerous failings on the part of Right Angle Ltd that exposed multiple operatives to a host of foreseeable risks, including falls, slips and trips.”John Donald has to accept culpability as an experienced roofer who should have known better. He instructed the injured worker to work in an unsafe area where there were wholly insufficient measures in place to prevent or mitigate a fall.”Ms Coppell added that the consequence of their shortcomings is that a young man has been left with life-changing spinal injuries, from which he might never completely recover.By Francesca WitneyOr Call freephone 0800 884 0321SHARE THIS

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Two Companies Fined after Worker Fall

Home » No Win No Fee » Latest Personal Injury News » 2014 » 4 » Two Companies Fined after Worker FallTwo Companies Fined after Worker FallTwo Scottish companies have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a 37-year-old worker was injured in a fall from height.Refurbishment projectScott Massie, aged 37 at the time of the accident, was employed by Riverside Construction Aberdeen, which had been subcontracted by Aberdeen Fabrication (A-FAB) to work on a major refurbishment project on a property in the Market Street area of the city.Peterhead Sheriff Court heard that Mr Massie was replacing a floorboard over a hole in the first floor. The gap was used to hoist important materials from the ground floor to higher storeys, but had outlived its usefulness and was set to be filled so construction could continue.But as the Scot manoeuvred the board into position, it fell through the hole and set Mr Massie off balance, sending him falling to the floor below. Mr Massie landed on his back nearly four metres below, fracturing his spine in several places.At first, the construction worker started to call out for help, but no one heard him and he had to crawl back up to the first floor before colleagues found him and called for an ambulance.HospitalUpon arriving at hospital, Mr Massie was diagnosed with eight fractures to his vertebrae and two broken ribs.The man had to stay in hospital for almost two months and had to go through painful physiotherapy to learn how to walk again. He has also since been told he has permanent damage to his lower back.Upon being informed of the accident, the HSE launched an investigation to establish the facts of the case.It was discovered that just a few weeks before Mr Massie fell, the agency had served an Improvement Notice on principal contractor A-FAB after concerns over a lack of safeguarding to protect against falls from height.After an investigation, the HSE established that A-FAB had failed to sufficiently address safety issues that would prevent people from falling through holes in the floors and it was taken to Court alongside Riverside Construction Aberdeen.Court actionFor its part in Mr Massie’s injuries, A-FAB was fined £45,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Riverside Construction was hit with a smaller, but still substantial, fine of £30,000 after it pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.Speaking after the trial ended, HSE’s principal inspector Isabelle Martin said, “It was clear there was a risk of a fall through the holes in the floor at this site and had Aberdeen Fabrications and Riverside Construction (Aberdeen) taken the action required by HSE inspectors this incident could have been avoided.”But as a result of the failings of his employer Riverside Construction and the principal contractor Aberdeen Fabrications, Mr Massie has suffered severe injuries from which he is unlikely to ever fully recover.”Falls from height are the single biggest cause of workplace deaths and there is no excuse for employers failing to protect workers.”By Chris StevensonOr Call freephone 0800 884 0321SHARE THIS

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How Australia’s Outback got one million feral camels: Camels culled on large scale

A new study by a University of Exeter researcher has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia’s remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled on a large scale.Sarah Crowley, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus, explored the history of the camel in Australia, from their historic role helping to create the country’s infrastructure through to their current status as unwelcome “invader.”The deserts of the Australian outback are a notoriously inhospitable environment where few species can survive. But the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) prospers where others perish, eating 80% of native plant species and obtaining much of their water through ingesting this vegetation.Yet for numerous Australians, particularly ranchers, conservation managers, and increasingly local and national governments, camels are perceived as pests and extreme measures — including shooting them with rifles from helicopters — are being taken to reduce their population.In her article, published in the journal Anthrozos, Crowley proposes that today’s Australian camels exemplify the idea of “animals out of place” and discusses how they have come to inhabit this precarious position.She said: “Reports estimate there are upwards of a million free-ranging camels in Australia and predict that this number could double every eight years. As their population burgeons, camels encroach more frequently upon human settlements and agricultural lands, raising their media profile and increasing local animosity toward them.”The camel was first brought to Australia in the 1800s when the country was in the midst of a flurry of colonial activity. The animals were recognized by pioneers as the most appropriate mode of transport for the challenging environment because they require significantly less water, feed on a wider variety of vegetation, and are capable of carrying heavier loads than horses and donkeys.Camels therefore played a significant role in the establishment of Australia’s modern infrastructure, including the laying of the Darwin-Adelaide Overland Telegraph Line and the construction of the Transnational Railway.Once this infrastructure was in place, however, and motorized transport became increasingly widespread, camels were no longer indispensable. In the early part of the 20th century they rapidly lost their economic value and their displaced handlers either shot their wards or released them into the outback where, quite discreetly, they thrived.It was not until the 1980s that surveys hinted at the true extent of their numbers, and only in 2001 that reports of damage caused by camels were brought to the general populace.Camels are not the most dainty of creatures. Dromedaries are on average six feet tall at the shoulder, rendering cattle fencing no particular obstacle to their movement. By some accounts, camels may not even see small fences and consequently walk straight through them.Groups of camels arriving on agricultural properties and settlements in Australia, normally in times of severe drought, can also cause significant damage in their search for water.In 2009, a large-scale culling operation began. There were objections from animal welfare groups and some landowners who were concerned that the method of culling from helicopters, leaving the bodies to waste, is inhumane. Most objectors, however, were primarily concerned that culling is economically wasteful and felt that the camels should be mustered for slaughter or export.There are also concerns regarding the global environment, as camels may contribute to the desertification of the Australian landscape. They are also ruminants and thus produce methane, adding to Australia’s carbon emissions. …

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Cable Strike Leads to Fines

Home » No Win No Fee » Latest Personal Injury News » 2014 » 3 » Cable Strike Leads to FinesCable Strike Leads to FinesTwo firms based in the North East of England have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after workers were put at risk of electrocution.Chester-le-Street company Northern Construction Solutions and its Hexham-based counterpart Egger UK were taken to Court by the authority after failings were found in the management of groundworks by inspectors.Cable strikeNewcastle Magistrates’ Court was told that the cable strike took place as work was being undertaken at Egger’s site by Northern Construction Solutions.Staff members were asked to excavate an area in front of a newly built electrical substation in order to install a drainage system that would prevent power outages in the future if there was heavy rain or flooding from nearby rivers.To complete this task they used a digger, but as the bucket of the vehicle came into contact with the ground after a brief period of excavation, it touched onto a 20 kV underground electrical cable, something with enough power to easily kill any human in close proximity.Injury avoidedLuckily, workers were not electrocuted, despite the metal digger touching the live cable.The accident was recorded and passed on to the HSE, which sought to discover why staff members of Northern Construction Solutions were allowed to be in such close proximity to dangerous cables.It was concluded that it was Egger’s duty to provide Northern Construction Solutions with information regarding the location of electric cables.But while Egger gave the contractor an out-of-date diagram without the live wires in place, something that goes against health and safety law, Northern Construction Solutions knew this was the case and did not inform workers.FinesFor its part in the avoidable accident, which the HSE said could have led to multiple deaths, Egger was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay £578.90 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.Northern Construction Solutions was also sanctioned and told to pay a combined £4,761.60 in costs and fines after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.”Fatal consequences”Even though nobody was injured in this case, the HSE has been quick to condemn both companies involved for putting their workers at risk of harm through a lack of record-keeping and poor communication.HSE Inspector Andrea Robbins said, “Fortunately nobody was hurt in this incident. However, the potential for serious, even fatal, injuries was foreseeable.”Had both Egger and Northern Construction Solutions adequately planned and managed the risks arising from contact with live underground cables before the excavation work started, e.g. isolation of the services, provision of up-to-date and accurate information on the location of the underground services, then this incident would have most probably been avoided.”The construction industry needs to be more aware of the dangers of working in the vicinity of live underground services. Appropriate planning and control measures should always be in place.”By Francesca WitneyOr Call freephone 0800 884 0321SHARE THIS

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E-cigarettes: Known and unknown dangers

It’s no easy task to quit smoking and the lure of an e-cigarette, which claims to mimic the smoking experience without the harmful chemicals, seems a dream come true for many smokers. According Philip McAndrew, MD, Loyola University Health System physician and smoking cessation expert, that dream can quickly turn into a nightmare with no FDA product regulations. The truth is little is known about the chemicals e-cigarette smokers are inhaling. What is known is there is an increase in the number of adolescents smoking them.”In our culture we have this idea that something new is something better no matter how little we know about it or how little it’s regulated,” McAndrew said. “There is no clear evidence that e-cigarettes help with smoking cessation and the lack of FDA regulation has led to the use of at least 19 harmful chemicals in the devices, some that are cancer-causing carcinogens.”The e-cigarettes contain nicotine, but also a high concentration of propylene glycol, which is a hazard if inhaled. This chemical is what provides the “smoke.” There is no research on the effects the chemical has on the lungs when inhaled at this concentration. What is known is that The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health lists propylene glycol as an inhalant risk and recommends immediate fresh air if the chemical is inhaled.”E-cigarettes are really a wolf in sheep’s clothing. People think it’s a safe alternative to cigarettes, but the reality is we don’t know. There are so many important safety questions we don’t have answers to. We don’t know who is producing them, exactly what chemicals are in them, if the construction of the devices are safe and the effects these chemicals can have on a person’s health,” McAndrew said.The City of Chicago’s recent ban on e-cigarettes use is similar to the ban on regular cigarettes and requires retailers to keep electronic cigarettes behind the counter like traditional cigarettes. …

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Psychologist discovers intricacies about lying

Sep. 4, 2013 — What happens when you tell a lie? Set aside your ethical concerns for a moment — after all, lying is a habit we practice with astonishing dexterity and frequency, whether we realize it or not. What goes on in your brain when you willfully deceive someone? And what happens later, when you attempt to access the memory of your deceit? How you remember a lie may be impacted profoundly by how you lie, according to a new study by LSU Associate Professor Sean Lane and former graduate student Kathleen Vieria. The study, accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Research and Memory Cognition, examines two kinds of lies — false descriptions and false denials — and the different cognitive machinery that we use to record and retrieve them.False descriptions are deliberate flights of the imagination — details and descriptions that we invent for something that didn’t happen. As it turned out, these lies were far easier for Lane’s test subjects to remember.Lane explained that false descriptions remain more accessible and more durable in our memories because they tax our cognitive power.”If I’m going to lie to you about something that didn’t happen, I’m going to have to keep a lot of different constraints in mind,” Lane said.Liars must remember what they say, and also monitor how plausible they seem, the depth of detail they offer, even how confident they appear to the listener. And if the listener doesn’t seem to be buying it, they must adapt the story accordingly.”As the constructive process lays down records of our details and descriptions, it also lays down information about the process of construction,” Lane said.In short, false descriptions take work. We remember them well precisely because of the effort required to make them up. …

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Snapping turtles finding refuge in urban areas while habitats are being polluted

Aug. 27, 2013 — In the Midwest, some people have a fear of encountering snapping turtles while swimming in local ponds, lakes and rivers. Now in a new study, a University of Missouri researcher has found that snapping turtles are surviving in urban areas as their natural habitats are being polluted or developed for construction projects. One solution is for people to stop using so many chemicals that are eventually dumped into the waterways, the scientist said.”Snapping turtles are animals that can live in almost any aquatic habitat as long as their basic needs for survival are met,” said Bill Peterman, a post-doctoral researcher in the Division of Biological Sciences at MU. “Unfortunately, suitable aquatic habitats for turtles are being degraded by pollution or completely lost due to development. We found that snapping turtles can persist in urbanized areas, despite the potential for more interaction with humans.”Peterman said that reducing negative inputs, such as waste and harmful chemicals, into waterways will help restore snapping turtles’ habitats. Engaging in this type of environmental action also will increase biodiversity in those habitats and improve the quality of life to all species that call those habitats home.However, even though turtles are living in urban areas, Peterman says people have nothing to fear.”Everyone has a snapping turtle story, but some are just too far-fetched and lead to false accusations,” Peterman said. “In reality, snapping turtles aren’t aggressive animals and won’t bite unless they are provoked. So, if you should happen to see one around your property, simply leave it alone and let it go about its business.”The study took place in the Central Canal that flows through urban Indianapolis; researchers used tracking devices on large snapping turtles to monitor turtle movements. Peterman and his colleagues found that snapping turtles used all parts of the Central Canal, but were particularly dependent upon forested areas.”While we didn’t study whether the snapping turtle populations were increasing or decreasing, we regularly saw hatchling and juvenile snapping turtles,” Peterman said. …

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New technique for measuring tree growth cuts down on research time

Aug. 26, 2013 — Tree growth is measured to understand tree health, fluxes in carbon sequestration, and other forest ecosystem functions. It is one of the most essential and widely collected woody plant traits. Yet, the traditional method to measure tree growth is awkward and time consuming. Scientists have developed a new, resourceful way to take repeated tree growth measurements safely and accurately.Dendrometer bands are metal straps that wrap around a tree trunk to measure its growth. Bands are fashioned by bending banding material into a “collar” and passing the metal strap through the collar. The collar allows the strap to expand and shrink to measure trunk circumference and changes in trunk diameter over time. Construction of traditional bands is tricky. They have sharp edges, and the manipulation of the material requires a skilled worker.Dr. Beth Middleton of the U.S. …

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How genes tell cellular construction crews, ‘Read me now!’

Aug. 13, 2013 — When egg and sperm combine, the new embryo bustles with activity. Its cells multiply so rapidly they largely ignore their DNA, other than to copy it and to read just a few essential genes. The embryonic cells mainly rely on molecular instructions placed in the egg by its mother in the form of RNA.The cells translate these RNA molecules into proteins that manage almost everything in the first minutes or hours of the embryo’s life. Then, during the so-called midblastula transition, cells start transcribing massive amounts of their own DNA. How embryonic cells prepare for this moment, and how they flag a small set of genes for transcription before that, holds important information about normal development and disease in animals and in humans.A new study that sheds light on these questions appears in the Aug. 13 issue of eLife Sciences, authored by researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research. The team, led by Associate Investigator Julia Zeitlinger, Ph.D., shows that in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, genes active in the first two hours of a fertilized egg are read quickly due to special instructions at the beginning of each gene, in a region aptly named the “promoter.”Within each promoter region, different combinations of short control elements or “boxes” form a code that instructs specialized construction crews, called RNA polymerases, where and when to start transcribing. Researchers long thought that once an RNA polymerase appears at the worksite it would quickly finish the job.”The most important result is that promoters are different,” Zeitlinger says. “The general paradigm for a long time has been a promoter is a promoter. …

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Muscle health depends on sugar superstructure

Aug. 8, 2013 — For many inherited diseases, such as cystic fibrosis or Huntington disease, the disease-causing genetic mutation damages or removes a protein that has an essential role in the body. This protein defect is the root cause of the disease symptoms.However, for a group of muscular dystrophies known collectively as congenital muscular dystrophies (CMDs), the sequence of the protein that is central to normal function is typically unaffected. Instead, the defects lie in processing proteins — ones that are responsible for modifying the central protein by adding sugar chains (glycans). Either loss of the glycans or disruption of their structure is sufficient to cause muscle disease.In a new study, published online Aug. 8 in the journal Science, a University of Iowa team led by Kevin Campbell, Ph.D., has pinpointed not just one, but three proteins that are required for constructing a key, early section of a critical sugar chain. Mutations affecting any one of these three proteins can cause CMD disease in humans.The central protein in CMDs is dystroglycan (DG). “It looks like at least 10 to 15 genes encode proteins that contribute to the glycan superstructure that makes DG effective,” says Campbell, professor and head of molecular physiology and biophysics at the UI Carver College of Medicine, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. “Our goal is to figure out the whole pathway by which the glycan structure is built, since defects in any of the proteins can potentially lead to disease. Knowing which genes are involved is expected to help us develop clinical tests for these dystrophies, and also ways to screen for potential therapeutic agents.”Normally, DG is modified with a unique sugar chain that acts like glue, allowing DG to attach to other proteins and, by doing so, to reinforce cell membranes in many tissues — including muscle and brain. …

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New modular vaccine design combines best of existing vaccine technologies

July 29, 2013 — A new method of vaccine design, called the Multiple Antigen Presentation System (MAPS), may result in vaccines that bring together the benefits of whole-cell and acellular or defined subunit vaccination. The method, pioneered by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, permits rapid construction of new vaccines that activate mulitple arms of the immune system simultaneously against one or more pathogens, generating robust immune protection with a lower risk of adverse effects.As reported by Fan Zhang, PhD, Ying-Jie Lu, PhD, and Richard Malley, MD, from Boston Children’s Division of Infectious Disease, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on July 29, the method could speed development of new vaccines for a range of globally serious pathogens, or infectious agents.Broadly speaking, the vaccines available today fall into two categories: whole-cell vaccines, which rely on weakened or killed bacteria or viruses; and acellular or subunit vaccines, which include a limited number of antigens — portions of a pathogen that trigger an immune response. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.”Whole-cell vaccines elicit a broad range of immune responses, often just as an infection would, but can cause side effects and are hard to standardize,” said Malley. “Acellular vaccines can provide good early immunity with less risk of side effects, but the immune responses they induce wane with time.”The MAPS method may allow vaccine developers to take a middle ground, where they can link multiple protein and polysaccharide (sugar) antigens from one or more pathogens together in a modular fashion, much as one would connect Lego blocks.The resulting complex — which resembles a scaffold of polysaccharides studded with proteins — can stimulate both antibody and T-cell responses simultaneously much like whole-cell vaccines, resulting in stronger immunity to the source pathogen(s). However, because the composition of a MAPS vaccine is well defined and based on the use of isolated antigens (as one would find with an acellular vaccine) the risk of side effects should be greatly reduced.For instance, mice injected with a MAPS vaccine combining proteins from tuberculosis (TB) and polysaccharides from Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) mounted vigorous antibody and T-cell responses against TB, whereas those vaccinated with TB protein antigens alone mounted only an antibody response.Similarly, 90 percent of mice given a MAPS-based vaccine containing multiple pneumococcal polysaccharide and protein antigens were protected from a lethal pneumococcus infection, mounting strong antibody and T-cell responses against the bacteria. By contrast, 30 percent of mice vaccinated with the same antigens in an unbound state survived the same challenge.”The MAPS technology gives you the advantages of: whole-cell vaccines while being much more deliberate about which antigens you include; doing it in a quantitative and precise way; and including a number of antigens so as to try to replicate the effectiveness of whole-cell vaccination,” Malley explained. “The immunogenicity of these constructs is greater than the sum of their parts, somewhat because they are presented to the host as particles.”The system relies on the interactions of two compounds, biotin and rhizavidin, rather than covalent binding as is used in most of the current conjugate vaccines. To build a MAPS vaccine, biotin is bound to the polysaccharide(s) of choice and rhizavidin to the protein(s). The biotin and rhizavidin then bind together through an affinity interaction analogous to Velcro. The construction process is highly efficient, significantly reducing the time and cost of vaccine development and production.While his team’s initial work has focused on bacterial pathogens, Malley believes the technology could impact vaccine development for a broad range of pathogens, in particular those of importance in the developing world. …

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