Drowning hands

SUMMER is here- and where best to cool off from the summer heat than by plunging into the cool ocean?

A great day out for all families, a day on the beach and a muck about in the water is the most popular holiday activity for Brits.

We take safety seriously when it comes to our families; we ensure that they are smothered in the correct sun cream to ensure we protect the delicate skin of our little ones, and teach them of the danger of strangers… but when we let our children into the sea to swim, could we recognise if they were drowning?

When we think of someone drowning, the vast majority of us will think of what we have seen in the movies.  Arms flailing, gulping, shouting and splashing…  but in reality, drowning is the complete opposite.

There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind. To get an idea of just how quiet and undramatic from the surface drowning can be, consider this: It is the number two cause of accidental death in children, age 15 and under (just behind vehicle accidents) – of the approximately 750 children who will drown next year, about 375 of them will do so within 25 yards of a parent or other adult. In ten percent of those drownings, the adult will actually watch them do it, having no idea what is truly happening.

Drowning does not look like drowning.

Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. Breathing has to occur before speech. If a person cannot breathe, they cannot cry for help. When a frowning person’s mouth is above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.

Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface in an attempt to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.

From beginning to end of what is known as the ‘Instinctive Drowning Response’, people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs- this is even less for a child.

The below video shows a child drowning- and how to those close by, it looks like the child is just having a play in the water. It is worth a watch so that you can recognise what a drowning person looks like.

What are the other signs of drowning?

Other signs to look out for are:

  • Head low in the water, mouth at water level
  • Head tilted back with mouth open
  • Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
  • Eyes closed
  • Hair over forehead or eyes
  • Not using legs – Vertical
  • Hyperventilating or gasping
  • Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
  • Trying to roll over on the back
  • Ladder climb, rarely out of the water.

As a side note- remember inflatable toys do not mean safety.  Children should be supervised at all times whilst they are in the water.  The below video from China went viral recently, as it shows how easily a child can get into trouble with an inflatable, and one many would deem to keep their child safe:

Crane Collapse Crewe

Two men have died after a crane collapsed on a Seddon site in Crewe.

Another man, believed to be the crane driver, was taken by air ambulance to Royal Stoke Hospital with serious, but not life threatening, injuries. A parent and child were also taken to hospital as a precaution as the crane had struck residential buildings surrounding the site.

The three men were working on site when the crane collapsed and became trapped underneath it.  The incident is currently under a joint investigation with Cheshire Police and the HSE to establish the cause of the crane collapse.

A statement from Seddon, the site main contractor, read: “We are aware of an incident at our construction site on Dunwoody Way, Crewe. At this early stage we are working with the emergency services and authorities in order to provide the necessary assistance. We will provide further updates once more information becomes available.”

Chief Superintendent Matt Welsted of Cheshire Police said: “This is a truly tragic incident, and our deepest condolences go out to the families affected at this extremely difficult time.

“This is a multi-agency operation and we are working closely with the Health & Safety Executive, local authority and building control to establish the full circumstances of the incident. However I would like to reassure members of the public that nobody else is at risk.”

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the bodies of the victims were recovered from the site shortly after midnight.


Today, Some of the biggest names in the infrastructure sector have thrown backed the first ever UK-wide health & safety stand-down in a bid to bring much needed awareness of key subjects across the sector.

Stop. Make a Change. has been developed by some of the industry’s leading contractors and customers working with the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA). It was launched at CECA’s 20th anniversary conference in November last year, with the backing of 18 leading contractors and customers.

Since then a host more than 50 names have signed up to be involved in the initiative, including Gatwick Airport, Transport Scotland and Scottish Water as well as main contractors including Galliford Try/Morrison Construction and Clancy Docwra.  A range of SMEs and industry bodies are also backing the event.

Stop. Make a Change. will see companies involved making commitments relating to four key health, safety and well-being topics that often get overlooked – Mental health, plant safety, fatigue, and respiratory illness. Each business will decide on their own focus of these topics and will use the event to down tools over 2 hours and give ‘Toolbox Talks’ and briefings  to staff and suppliers about them.

Taking into account supply chain partners which will also get involved, organisers estimate a further 3,000 firms will be impacted by today’s stand-down events.

CECA chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “When we first started planning Stop. Make a Change we hoped that we might get up to 10 companies and a few thousand employers involved in this first year.

“The response from industry has been tremendous, with a real desire to use the event as an opportunity to deliver positive change across the sector. We are looking forward to events today, and the health, safety and wellbeing improvements that they will drive”.

Stop. Make a Change has been supported by CITB’s Structured Fund.  It is intended that good practice developed through Stop. Make a Change will be shared among supporters through a guide published later this year.

You can read more about the initiative here.

New Training room with break area and delegates

In January of this year, HCS Safety continued its expansion by adding a whole new training floor as well as adding new courses to its repertoire.

As the premier training and consultancy centre on the South Coast, HCS found the need to expand quickly to supply demand, and so took over the entire building of West Point House in October 2016.

Work quickly started in transforming the lower floor into 2 new classrooms with break area and a new Training and Accounts office.

Now running 5 training rooms at any one time, new courses were added to an already healthy list of professional training.

These include the much requested Risk Assessment course, designed to teach individuals the basics of writing a suitable and competent risk assessment and corresponding method statement; and Paediatric First Aid for those wanting to be able to not only use their knowledge in the workplace, but those who wanted it for the benefit of protecting their own families.

just over 3 months into 2017, and the response has been fantastic, with courses filling fast and positive feedback from attendees.

HCS Safety’s success is built upon the recommendations from those who have trained and used its consultancy services, and its latest venture proves that a friendly, practical and professional company can work- and does.

To see what courses HCS Safety can offer you, just click here for a full list and dates.


Severn Trent saves £30k using Drones

It’s expensive and wastes time- the main moans you hear when you ask someone down the pub how they feel about health and safety- and something we hear a lot in our industry.  It is therefore extremely refreshing to hear about a company taking an initiative that not only is safety and environmentally conscious, but saves the company a hefty amount of money too.

Water company Severn Trent has announced that they save an estimated £30,000 per year by carrying out maintenance inspections via drones.  In light of this, they are currently looking into other uses that this can be applied to; such as checking the optimisation of treatment processes, thermal imaging of pipes to detect leakage and creating 3D models of assets.  The use of a drone for surveying sites also means a reduction of its environmental impact and disturbance of wildlife.

Severn Trent’s major works include surveys of dams, rivers and its buildings, which until now would have been contracted out to third parties. The use of drones also reduces the cost of hiring scaffolding and having to manage the risk of sending someone up there.  There is also plans to implement the machines in assisting with remotely managing Severn Trent’s solar farms.

“We believe initial outlay on equipment would be tens of thousands of pounds, together with wages, but this would be repaid relatively quickly,” a Severn Trent spokesman told Utility Week.

“For example, if we decided to use a drone to survey one of our digesters before cleaning, it would normally cost up to £50,000 to put a full set of scaffolding around the silo to enable a team to manually inspect it. With a drone, we can reduce the amount of scaffolding, reduce costs and reduce risk.”

After a period of evaluation, Severn Trent has decided to bring two full-time drone pilots on board.

IFG Drake Mills, Huddersfield where a nightshift worker was crushed

Police and the HSE are currently investigating the death of a 51 year old man after he was crushed to death at work.

The incident happened at Victoria Mills in Golcar, Huddersfield.  The company, I.F.G Drake, Trading as Drake Extrusion Ltd, manufactures coloured polypropylene fibres and yarns.  They are one of the biggest suppliers on the European market.

Emergency services were called just after 2am on Friday the 24th March.  The gentleman, recently named by local press as husband and father of two, Javeed Ghaffer, was believed to have caught his arm in a machine he was working on was dragged into it, suffering severe crushing injuries.  A workmate raised the alarm and activated the machine’s emergency stop, but it was too late.  Mr Ghaffer was pronounced dead at the scene. Known as “Gaffer”, Mr Ghaffer was a popular local darts player who was well known and respected in the local community.

Drake Extrusion sent home staff from the mill and have ceased production whilst investigations into the accident take place.

A spokesman for the firm said: “There was an incident and it is being looked at. We cannot operate today (24/03/17) and we are being fully co-operative with all the authorities.”

A Health and Safety Executive  spokesman said: “The HSE has been made aware of an incident that took place in the Golcar area of Huddersfield overnight.

“We are assisting West Yorkshire Police as part of a joint inquiry.”

Drake Extrusion Ltd held a compulsory meeting for Staff on the morning of Tuesday 28th March. Workers were told that they should return to their normal shifts; however production would still remain suspended until investigations by West Yorkshire Police and the HSE come to a conclusion.

The HSE are reportedly due to return to the mill on Thursday 30th March.

A London plumber has won a legal battle for workers’ rights in the latest court ruling affecting freelance employees in the UK.

The London Court of Appeal has ruled that Pimlico Plumbers’ self-employed contractors in fact qualify as workers, meaning they are entitled to employment rights such as sick pay, minimum wage and paid holiday.

Gary Smith, a former employee of the London plumbing company, brought the case, claiming that he should have been entitled to basic employment rights. Mr Smith sued the company after he was dismissed following a heart attack. He said his status was more akin to an employee than contractor and that he should have received benefits such as sick pay.

Because Mr Smith worked a minimum of 40 hours a week, was required to wear company uniform and drive a Pimlico Plumbers van, the Judge ruled that he should be classed as a worker. Mr Smith paid his taxes as a self-employed worker, but had only worked for the one company, Pimlico Plumbers, for six years.

The decision could have an important impact at a time when self-employment is estimated to account for 45 per cent of UK jobs created since the 2007-08 financial crisis.

Charlie Mullins, founder of the London-based company, said before Friday’s ruling he had been “guided by the Inland Revenue”. But he argued: “If Gary was not a self-employed plumber he would not have been paid £80,000 a year. He would have been paid £40,000 a year on a PAYE system.”

Speaking to the BBC Today programme, Mr Mullins said: “All of a sudden he doesn’t want the self-employed basis and wants to have the rights of someone who is an employee, and that was never the case.”

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The HSE have announced that it is to undergo consultation on proposals to make the dispute process for its Fee For Intervention (FFI) scheme fully independent.

Contractors could soon be able to count on a fully impartial panel to rule on disputes over the Health and Safety Executive’s controversial FFI charges.

The scheme, Fee for Intervention (FFI), was introduced in October 2012 to shift the cost of regulating workplace health and safety from the public purse to businesses that break the law and ensures the cost burden of HSE intervention is picked up by those companies and not taxpayers.

Currently, the HSE act as both Prosecutor Judge in the dispute process; with the panel comprising of two HSE Members and one independent person.

Under new plans, the panel would be completely independent, with no HSE members involved. The HSE could hope that this would help with the reputation of the controversial scheme, which despite hitting a record high of £15m of fines in 2016, still continues to lose money to the tune of £11.4m.

A spokesperson for the Health and Safety Executive said: ‘The HSE has always kept the dispute process under review and, following a recent application for a judicial review, we believe the time is right to move to a dispute process which is completely independent of the HSE.’

On July 14th 2014, a 16 year old employee suffered serious burns to his hands and arms.
On December 1st 2015, an employee at a separate restaurant spilled gravy on herself whilst removing gravy from the microwave, causing serious burns to her body.

Despite health and safety rules and procedures being in place and agreed to, the staff members in question suffered severe burns after cutting corners and failing to wear the required PPE- a gauntlet for removing gravy tubs from the microwave. The court stated that “It is the duty of management at every level to ensure corners are not cut”.

Environmental Health officers from Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council visited the Wellington Square premises, the site of the second incident, on 3rd December 2015. They found that staff at the restaurant were unable to locate any spare protective gloves, processes were not being managed and the business failed to ensure that their own procedures were being followed.

The Judge ruled that there was a lack of training given; but was complimentary about the company’s subsequent preventative actions:

“I am perfectly satisfied that they are pro-active in seeking to prevent this happening again. They have put in place user-friendly steps to warn employees. The company did not financially cut corners in spending on health and safety; they spend millions on it, and I’m satisfied that they take it very seriously indeed.

“Had its policies and procedures been strictly enforced by the company management, and had management ensured that the necessary safeguards were always in the right place at the right time, this should not have happened.”

Kentucky Fried Chicken (Great Britain) Limited was ordered to pay a total of £950,000 in fines and £18,700 in costs.

KFC representatives said that training had been given to staff and the chain invests £7.5million in health and safety measures every year. They added that procedures were in place but were not followed, that such incidents are very rare, and that they had cooperated with all aspects of the investigation.

Last year, Channel 4’s Celebrity competition show, “The Jump” came under fire when 7 contestants suffered serious injuries; as seen in our report last year.

Surprisingly, The Jump returns to our screens on Sunday 5th February.

Producers have said that there has been a thorough review of safety standards following the volume of serious injuries that occurred in last year’s series. In a recent interview on ITV’s Lorraine, presenter Davina McCall explained that this year’s contestants will receive an extra 2 weeks intensive training.

Despite this, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, the show’s commentator, has reportedly been axed by the show after understandably raising his concerns at the Show’s approach to health and safety.

Speaking out about his worries in an interview in October, Eddie said: “I kept on telling the producers, ‘It’s going to get very difficult, very hairy’ and they said, ‘No it’s all right’ and they’ve carried on and they’ve had so many accidents.

“I was very surprised they’re going to have another series.”

According to a source who spoke to The Sun newspaper, Producers were absolutely fuming with Eddie’s comments, telling them “Producers didn’t like what he was saying about the show as it came in for a lot of stick.

“They are really sensitive because of the amount of people who have broken their legs or been seriously hurt.

“It would be hard for Eddie to appear on the show after his comments because he would have to explain them and there is a high chance someone else will get injured.”

Bosses are now reportedly pre-recording much more of the show to minimise the chances of any injuries being shown on TV, with the insider adding: “The celebrities flew out yesterday and will be filming for at least a month before the show starts.

“The producers don’t want to risk anything this year and pre-recording most stuff makes it a lot easier.

“There have been a few injuries on camera in the past – not just in training – so they want to avoid those situations.

“It also means the celebs won’t take bigger risks as the adrenaline won’t be pumping like it does on the live shows.”