Hazards magazine, number 95, July/September 2006
Last updated 4 August 2006

Eyeball Artwork WorkSafeBC ‘Demand Safety’ Campaign

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Back to Young workers

Too young to die

Hazards dossier
- Steven Burke, killed aged 17
- Daniel Dennis, killed aged 17
- Mark Fiebig, killed aged 21
- Craig Gowans, killed aged 17
- Lewis Murphy, killed aged 18
- Ionit Simionica, killed aged 22
- Christopher Kesterton, killed aged 16
- Jimmy Hall, killed aged 21
- Ben Pinkham, killed aged 21
- Steven Parsons, killed aged 18
- Robert Haywood, 18, fingers amputated
- Paul Lee Jarman, 23, multiple injuries
- Farm worker, 16, leg amputated
- Samuel Phillips, 16, crushed
- Leonardo Viera, teenager, serious burns
Young, injured and dead
- Table: Injuries to young workers (16-24 years)
- Worsening problem
The novice factor
- Shock and age
- The young person effect
Sickening start
- Case history: Deadly consequences of bullying
Think young, think union
Young workers and the law
- The law – Regulation 19 of the MHSWR 1999
Safety initiatives

Buy Hazards 95

Steve Burke’s employer committed serious – criminal – safety offences, but will escape with a fine. The trainee scaffolder didn’t get off so lightly; he never lived to see his 18th birthday. Young workers like Steve aren’t “accident prone” or careless, they are inexperienced. When they die, it means not enough was done to protect them.

Steven Burke’s death was no accident. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found there were 2,500 too few poles used in the construction of scaffold from which the 17-year-old fell. HSE concluded the scaffold was sub-standard and the safety practices, supervision and harnesses used by 3D Scaffolding were inadequate (more). And Steven’s is not an isolated case.

Seventeen-year-old Daniel Dennis died in his first week working for a roofing firm after falling from a roof. He had received no training and had no safety equipment. Lewis Murphy died aged 18 in a massive fireball after his manager helped him pour a mixture of petrol and diesel into a waste oil tank. And Christopher Kesterton was killed aged 16 just weeks after leaving school, crushed by a two tonne structure on a construction site.

TRAINEE KILLED Garage manager Glen Hawkins, sentenced in March 2005 to a nine-month prison term for the manslaughter of 18-year-old trainee Lewis Murphy, was released shortly after, when the conviction was quashed at the Appeal Court [more].

In Britain, a worker aged between 16 and 24 years old suffers a reported workplace injury requiring more than 3 days off work every 12 minutes of every working day. A young worker is seriously injured at work every 40 minutes. Workplace fatalities in the 16-24 age range occur at a rate of more than one a month.

There is evidence work is becoming more hazardous for young workers. The combined total for "fatal and major injuries" in 16-24 year old employees has trended upwards in recent years. The figure is higher now than at any time in the last ten years, and has increased year on year for each of the last five years.

There are over 4 million workers in the UK aged between 16 and 24 years old. Over half a million of these are only 16-17 years old, have little previous experience of work and yet can be taken from school and placed in most jobs facing most hazards. They are more likely to be in a first job, more likely to be new to a job and more likely to be in an insecure or temporary job.

They are at the bottom of the workplace pecking order, with little influence, power or knowledge of workplace culture and rights. That can be a dangerous combination at the start of a working life. Add to this the half million school students who go on work placement every year and the quarter of a million who at any one time are on government supported apprenticeship schemes, and that is a lot of young people facing a lot of risks in a lot of workplaces.


Dead before their time

A Hazards dossier of 10 preventable young worker deaths.

1. Steven Burke, killed aged 17, fall from scaffold. more
2. Daniel Dennis, killed aged 17, fall from roof. more
3. Mark Fiebig, killed aged 21, fatigue related road accident. more
4. Craig Gowans, killed aged 17, electrocuted. more
5. Lewis Murphy, killed aged 18, burned in a fireball. more
6. Ionit Simionica, killed aged 22, crushed in a crypt. more
7. Christopher Kesterton, killed aged 16, crushed by a falling structure. more
8. Jimmy Hall, killed aged 21, crushed by falling equipment. more
9. Ben Pinkham, killed aged 21, burned in a solvent explosion. more
10. Steven Parsons, killed aged 18, crushed under a car. more

Young and seriously hurt

1. Robert Haywood, 18, fingers amputated. more
2. Paul Lee Jarman, 23, multiple injuries from fall. more
3. Farm worker, 16, leg amputated by tractor. more
4. Samuel Phillips, 16, crushed under vehicle. more
5. Leonardo Viera, teenager, serious burns from pasta boiler. more


Young, injured and dead

Health and Safety Executive figures show in the 16-24 year old workforce, 16 employees died in 2003/04. Final figures for 2004/05 put the year’s toll among 16-24 year olds at 12 deaths. While young workers are dying at a rate of one a month, many more experience near fatal risks (1). Health and safety professionals’ organisation IOSH said this year that in just five years, over 50 under-18s have lost their lives in UK workplaces and nearly 13,000 were badly injured.

Official reports of non-fatal major injuries in the 16-24 age group run at over 4,000 every year, or over 12 a day. Reported injuries requiring over three days off work in the young workers’ age group are running at about 15,000 plus a year – that’s over 40 a day, seven days a week.

Injuries to young workers (16-24 years)

Major injuries
Over 3-day injuries

Source Health and Safety Executive, fatal, major and over three day injuries to employees aged 16-24 years reported under the RIDDOR regulations. * provisional

The UK fatality rate for young workers is lower than for the working population as a whole – perhaps explained partly by the legal restrictions on the type and hours of work among the most vulnerable 16-17 year old group (see young workers and the law). However, in terms of lost years of life, the cost is self-evidently high.

Major injury rates are also high in the 16-24 age group, with only older workers (60-64 years) at significantly more risk. For total non-fatal injuries, the rate for 16-19 year olds is lower than that for the workforce as a whole, probably reflecting work restrictions on the youngest workers. But the 20-24 group – where workplace novices can enter the workforce without any of the young worker protections - has a higher overall reported accident rate than most other age groups.

Worsening problem for 16-24 year olds

Fatal and major injuries

Fatal and major injuries to employees age
16-24 as reported to all enforcing authorities.

While some young workers work fewer hours and are supposed to be protected from a range of chemical, physical and mental risks, there is evidence they are over-represented in some of the more hazardous sectors, including metal, wood, construction and vehicle trades, agriculture and warehouse work. Accidents by cause appear consistent across all age groups, with the exception of “hit by an object” or “hit by moving machinery”, where HSE statistics suggest 16-24 year olds have the highest injury rate.

TEEN KILLED Conder Structures Ltd, the company that designed a steel column that fell on 16-year-old worker Christopher Kesterton, killing him instantly, was ordered to pay £160,000 in fines and costs [more].

The novice factor

Contrary to popular perception, young workers are not killed or injured because they goof around or because they are immature. The accident statistics are most commonly explained by inexperience, not youth. The newer you are to the job, the more likely you are to be injured. This holds whatever the worker’s age.

Young workers are much more likely to be workplace novices than the rest of the working population, so are more at risk. Government figures show almost 50 per cent of 16-24 year olds have been in their job for less than a year. This compares to 20 per cent of 25-34 year olds and 15 per cent in the 35-44 age bracket.

TUC’s ‘Play safe at work’ survey in 2000 suggested many employers are doing far too little to protect young workers. It found 37 per cent of 15 to 24 year olds had received no health and safety training, despite a clear legal duty on employers. Even workers on government funded learning schemes are at risk. A July 2005 apprentices safety guide from the TUC and the Learning Skills Council noted “in the past two years 10 young people on government funded learning schemes have been killed while undertaking work-based training. These deaths were all avoidable.”

Across Europe, the European Commission estimates that workers in the 18-24 age group are at least 50 per cent more likely to be injured in the workplace than more experienced workers.

More: The young person effect

When safety authorities in the Canadian province of British Columbia asked young workers what it would take to reduce the workplace accident rate, they said it would need something pretty shocking. The result was a series of radio ads and a poster and online campaign with an uncompromising message. “Know your rights, Ask for training. Demand safety.” Graphic posters are displayed in bars, restaurants and on construction sites. Images in the “Demand Safety” campaign package, launched in June 2006, show a severed thumb, hand and an ear, with scalp attached. Another shows an eyeball. All have a price tag attached – the hourly rate for the job.

More on the WorkSafeBC ‘Demand Safety’ campaign

Sickening start

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures show young workers have low occupational ill-health rates. This is expected as many occupational diseases, like noise induced hearing loss, back pain and respiratory diseases, are generally the result of cumulative exposures. Some, like occupational cancer, tend to have long latency periods, so while the responsible exposures may occur while young, it would be extremely rare for the resultant cancer to emerge until at least a couple of decades into a workers’ working life.

This does not mean young workers are not at risk, even if the ill-health may not manifest itself for some time. This conclusion is borne out by statistics for those conditions with an immediate or relatively fast onset. An HSE information sheet on ‘Occupational ill health age statistics’ notes the “explanation is supported by the observation that: rates for work-related skin disease and for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder do not vary by age; and self-reported exposure to workplace risk factors show little variation by age.”(2)

Some of the chronic problems may, however, exact a relatively early toll. A 2005 paper in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, the Young Finns study, found young men aged between 24 and 39 years with high work demands and a lack of control over their job situation show signs of early atherosclerosis, a sign of a heightened heart attack and stroke risk.(3)

There are additional reasons to pay close attention to the health of young workers. They may be more vulnerable to some hazards and by virtue of their youth could be starting an entire working life time of exposure. The European Agency for Health and Safety at Work notes: “Young people may be more susceptible if exposed to health hazards than older workers. In addition, they may be subject to harassment and bullying from colleagues because of their low status or because they are new.” (4)

Deadly consequences of bullying

A December 2005 inquest decided that a teenager took her own life after being bullied by fellow workers at a KFC restaurant. The hearing was told Hannah Kirkham, 18, was attacked and humiliated. After she left her job she suffered hallucinations and could not even watch KFC adverts on television. Her mother Marie found her collapsed on the bedroom floor on 17 December 2003. She died in hospital nine days later.

The inquest jury at Oldham Magistrates' Court said she meant to kill herself by taking an overdose, was clinically depressed and this was “significantly influenced” by bullying at work. In one incident her uniform was set on fire. Earlier, KFC had said the staff who bullied Hannah had since left the firm. It said it introduced anti-bullying policies, including a confidential helpline, following her death.

In a narrative verdict, the jury said: “Hannah intended to take her own life after a sustained period of clinically diagnosed severe depressive illness which was significantly influenced by bullying and harassment in the workplace.”

Hannah had written a letter of complaint to the district manager at KFC on 4 December 2003 but this was only opened more than three months after her death. The company said it had carried out a “thorough review” of policies with help from Hannah's parents, which had ensured it now had a system to prevent bullying or sexual harassment.

Its poor approach to safety, however, subsequently landed it in the courts. The same KFC outlet was fined £60,000 in March 2006 and ordered to pay £16,000 costs after two young workers were scarred for life after being covered in boiling oil. Ahsan Rauf and Yuan Shi suffered the injuries in May 2004.

Think young, think union

TUC guidance for union safety reps to be published in September will urge them to “help protect any young workers in your workplace.” It tells safety reps:

• You can encourage recruitment of young people into unions whether they are in full-time training or employment;

• The health and safety of young workers should be a standing and separate agenda item on safety committees, to review health and safety arrangements for young people and monitor performance;

• Young people should not be required to undertake tasks where their lack of experience may put their own or other people’s health and safety at risk. Such tasks should be clearly identified in the health and safety policy;

• Particular care should be taken when placing young persons in work involving use of dangerous machinery or harmful substances. Young people are often more susceptible to health damage from exposure to toxic substances – although harmful effects may not appear until later in life;

• There must be proper arrangements for supervision. Work operations requiring constant supervision should be clearly identified – this may mean recruitment of more supervisors;

• Supervisors and first-line management should always be adequately trained in understanding the risks and control measures connected with the work young people are required to do;

• Every young worker should be given adequate health and safety induction training to explain the hazards of the job and precautions to be observed. Induction training should emphasise not only the young person’s duty to co-operate but also what they are entitled to expect from their employer and others. Safety representatives should be given the opportunity to take part;

• Health and safety training should be an integral part of job training and work experience programmes. Full information on health and safety matters should be made available, for example, on articles and substances; and

• Safety representatives have the legal right to be consulted on the health and safety content of training programmes for young people – they should be involved in the planning of schemes at the earliest possible stage rather than reacting to problems when training programmes have started.

UK safety professionals organisation IOSH is using youth friendly imagery to push its Wiseup2work campaign. It is also urging employers to audit their arrangements for managing risks to young people, considering especially whether risk assessments take account of young people, whether managers have robust systems for supervising young adults, and if induction and training programmes are working.


Young workers and the law

Young workers are afforded all the protection of general health and safety law – the right to information, training, supervision and general rights to a safe and healthy workplace. They also have, like other workers, the right to refuse work that poses an imminent risk to their health and safety (Hazards 79). There are however other rights specific to workers aged under 18 years.

Recruitment The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to conduct a risk assessment prior to recruiting a young worker to determine the risks to their health and suitability for the proposed work. This means taking into account their lack of experience, maturity and risk awareness.

Restrictions The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 19,(5) requires that persons under 18 years of age should not be employed to undertake work that is: beyond their physical or psychological capacity; exposes them to radiation or harmful substances; involves a risk of accidents they are unlikely to recognise because of a lack of training or experience; or involves a risk to their health from extreme heat, noise or vibration.

Hours The Working Time (Amendment) Regulations 2002 limit the hours per week and per day a child or young person (under 18) can work, and set out minimum rest periods. Workers aged 16 and 17 are entitled to 12 consecutive hours of rest in any 24 hour period. They are also entitled to a rest period of no less than 48 hours in each seven day period, compared to 24 hours for an adult worker. The UK opt-out from the Working Time Regulations does not apply to under-18s.

Night work Young workers are not normally allowed to work nights between 10pm-6am or 11pm-7am, although there are many exceptions, affecting many of the sectors where young workers are commonly employed.

Exemptions Young workers can work at night on shifts, provided certain tests are met, including: the work is necessary to maintain continuity of service or production, or to respond to a surge in demand; an adult is not available to perform the duties; the young worker is given compensatory rest; training is not adversely affected; and there is adequate supervision where necessary.

If all of these conditions apply, a young worker (16-17 years) can work through the night or they are working in hospitals or similar establishments, or in connection with cultural, artistic, sporting or advertising activities. Workers in other sectors are also allowed to work shifts, namely agriculture, retail trading, hotel or catering, restaurants and bars, bakeries or postal and newspaper deliveries, where they can work up to midnight or from 4am.

Young workers who are seafarers, in sea fishing or part of the armed forces are covered by different regulations.

The law – Regulation 19 of the MHSWR 1999

19. - (1) Every employer shall ensure that young persons employed by him are protected at work from any risks to their health or safety which are a consequence of their lack of experience, or absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or the fact that young persons have not yet fully matured.

(2) Subject to paragraph (3), no employer shall employ a young person for work -

(a) which is beyond his physical or psychological capacity;

(b) involving harmful exposure to agents which are toxic or carcinogenic, cause heritable genetic damage or harm to the unborn child or which in any other way chronically affect human health;

(c) involving harmful exposure to radiation;

(d) involving the risk of accidents which it may reasonably be assumed cannot be recognised or avoided by young persons owing to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training; or

(e) in which there is a risk to health from -

(i) extreme cold or heat;

(ii) noise; or

(iii) vibration,

and in determining whether work will involve harm or risks for the purposes of this paragraph, regard shall be had to the results of the assessment.

(3) Nothing in paragraph (2) shall prevent the employment of a young person who is no longer a child for work -

(a) where it is necessary for his training;

(b) where the young person will be supervised by a competent person; and

(c) where any risk will be reduced to the lowest level that is reasonably practicable.

(4) The provisions contained in this regulation are without prejudice to -

(a) the provisions contained elsewhere in these Regulations; and

(b) any prohibition or restriction, arising otherwise than by this regulation, on the employment of any person.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 19

Artwork WorkSafeBC ‘Demand Safety’ Campaign

Safety initiatives

Wiseup2work Safety professionals’ organisation IOSH has produced Wiseup2work an “interactive online resource… packed with high impact games and information to get the key messages across to work placement students, part-timers, apprentices and first jobbers.” IOSH adds: “The site has plenty of materials and guidance for teachers, training providers, youth workers and employers too.” National WiseUp2Work Day is 30 August 2006. more

Safe Start campaign The European Agency for Health and Safety at Work has launched a “Safe Start” campaign “dedicated to the occupational safety and health of young people.” Its European Week theme for 23-27 October 2006 is young workers’ health and safety. The website includes useful background information on the issue. European Agency young workers info pack.

Simon Jones Memorial Campaign High-powered, high profile activist based campaign, launched after the death of Simon Jones killed on 24 April 1998, aged 24, on his first day as a casual worker at Shoreham dock.

Young worker RoSPA’s online resource for young workers, with advice for young persons, work experience organisers and employers. more

LOSH youth project A Los Angeles based training initiative from the Labor Occupational Health and Safety Program (LOSH) at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). more California-based resource network on young workers’ health and safety, coordinated by the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP), University of California Berkeley. more

CIWA Youth Project The Canadian Injured Workers Alliance. Workshops on education, prevention and compensation. more

Demand Safety Highly effective information and advice campaign from a Canadian safety watchdog, WorkSafeBC. more


Hazards. Comprehensive information and resource lists

TUC young workers’ safety webpages. Links to news and resources.

Work safe – it could be you, TUC guide

TUC WorkSmart young workers’ guidance.

Apprenticeships: A short guide for union safety representatives. Telephone 0845 019 4170. Stock number: 604323. Online: [pdf]

WorkSafeBC resources: Demand Safety • WorkSafeBC young workers’ webpage • WorkSafeBC Young Worker Centre

National COSH network, USA.

Young people at work: A guide for employers, HSG165 (Second edition), HSE, ISBN 0 7176 1889 7. Order information

Health and safety of children and young people in catering, HSE Catering Information Sheet No 21 [pdf].

European Agency factsheets:

European Agency young workers info pack.

Why young people. European Agency Euroweek 2006 “Safe Start” campaign factsheet.

Factsheet 66 - Looking out for work hazards – advice for young people

Factsheets 65 - Your rights to safe and healthy work - advice for young people

Factsheets 64 - Protection for young people in the workplace

Factsheets 63 - Young worker safety – advice for parents

Factsheets 62 - Young worker safety – advice for supervisors

Factsheets 61 - Young worker safety - advice for employers

Learning and Skills Council ‘Safelearner’ health and safety webpages

International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour IPEC

HSE Euroweek webpages and downloads


1. HSE age and gender accident statistics, 2003/04 and 2004/05 (provisional)
Table 11a: Injuries to men employees by age of injured person and severity of injury, 2003/04 - 2004/05p.
Table 11b: Injuries to women employees by age of injured person and severity of injury, 2003/04 - 2004/05p.

Key messages from the LFS for injury risks: Gender and age, job tenure and part-time working [pdf]

2. Occupational ill health age statistics: Information sheet HSE. The survey of self-reported work-related illness in 2003/04, pages 11-12 [pdf].

3. M Hintsanen and others. Job strain and early atherosclerosis: the cardiovascular risk in the Young Finns Study. Psychosomatic Medicine 67(5), pages 740-747, 2005 [abstract].

4. 'Safe Start' campaign to protect young workers, European Agency news release, 20 June 2006.

5. Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 19.


Dead before their time
10 case histories

1. Steven Burke, killed aged 17

Steven Burke’s death was no accident. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found there were 2,500 too few poles used in the construction of the “birdcage” scaffold from which the 17-year-old fell. HSE concluded the scaffold was substandard and the safety practices, supervision and harnesses used by 3D Scaffolding were inadequate.

On 24 July 2006 3D Scaffold, which had pleaded guilty to criminal breaches of heath and safety law, was referred to the Crown Court for sentencing. Steven had undertaken training and was qualified as a stage one scaffolder, but he was just 17 and still a novice. He was wearing his safety harness. But it was impossible to move down the scaffold while still clipped on.

The Health and Safety Executive had issued a prohibition notice on the scaffolding firm two weeks before Steven’s death, “to prohibit work on the erection of birdcage scaffolding… because no fall arrest equipment was available.” The contracts manager admitted he had no relevant training. The inspector also confiscated defective safety equipment.

Workmate Steven Carlyle, an experienced scaffolder, said: “The accident shouldn’t have happened and had I been with him on that day he’d still be with us now. There was nobody more qualified than Steven on the job and there should have been.

“Had he been with me he would never have been in a dangerous situation.”

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2. Daniel Dennis, killed aged 17

The family of South Wales teenager Daniel Dennis, who was unlawfully killed at work, is attempting with union backing to take the Crown Prosecution Service to court for failing to bring manslaughter charges.

A March 2005 inquest ruled that Daniel Dennis, who died aged 17 in April 2003 when he fell from a roof, was the victim of unlawful killing.

He died in his first week working for North Eastern Roofing, which was subcontracted to Midas Construction. He had received no training in working at heights or in roofing and had not been provided with any safety equipment.

Daniel's father, Peter Dennis, had warned the company that his son had no training and should not work on the roof. However he did so, and as he moved across the roof, he passed over a rooflight which gave way under his weight causing him to fall approximately 28ft (9m) to the floor below.

Over a year after the inquest verdict, the CPS had still not brought forward charges. As a result, the family's trade union, the GMB, has instructed Thompsons Solicitors to apply for a judicial review.

Allan Garley, regional secretary of the GMB, said in April 2006: “The death of a 17-year-old boy in his first week at work is an absolute tragedy. The GMB isn't after vengeance, but we want employers who kill workers to be properly held to account.”

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3. Mark Fiebig, killed aged 21

Potato firm The Produce Connection was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £24,000 costs in April 2006 after employee Mark Fiebig, 21, crashed and died while driving home after a third consecutive shift of nearly 20 hours.

The firm admitted two safety breaches in failing to ensure the health of workers and the public. Mark Fiebig died when his van drifted into the path of a lorry on the A10 near Ely in 2002.

Judge Gareth Hawksworth at Cambridge Crown Court in June 2006 said the firm had failed to monitor the hours employees worked. The court heard that Mr Fiebig was thought to be suffering from "chronic fatigue" and had fallen asleep at the wheel.

The case is thought to be the first of its kind in the UK because The Produce Connection admitted breaching safety legislation even though Mr Fiebig died outside working hours.

Prosecutor Pascal Bates said Mr Fiebig had worked 11 days without a day off prior to his fatal crash. During that time he had worked on average 17 hours a day and was getting three to four hours' sleep a night.

He added: “Workers were paid by the hour. For payroll purposes a daily note was kept of each worker's working hours.” He said the farm manager “had to be aware, and so did other management.”

At an April 2006 hearing, where the company was found guilty of the safety offences, it was revealed the company could avoid a “big” fine as it is nearly bust.

Recorder Peter Guest said the case could arouse public outrage, adding a company in a healthy financial position would have to pay a “significant financial penalty” after admitting such offences. But lawyers for The Produce Connection said the company had an overdraft of nearly £2 million and was on the verge of insolvency.

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4. Craig Gowans, killed aged 17

Falkirk Football Club was fined £4,000 in November 2005 following the death of apprentice player Craig Gowans, 17, who was electrocuted when training equipment he was carrying touched an overhead power cable. He died on 8 July 2005 at the Scottish Premier League club's training ground in Grangemouth, while setting up equipment for senior players arriving for pre-season training.

The club was fined for failing to ensure the safety of the young central defender, who was only two weeks into a two-year contract with Falkirk.

John Hughes, the club's manager, and George Craig, the managing director, appeared at Falkirk Sheriff Court, having admitted the charge. A club statement said: “Falkirk Football Club fully accepts the ruling of the court.”

Craig said the accident had led to a major shake-up in the way Falkirk FC handled the health and safety of its employees. “We have employed the services of a health and safety consultant and we have risk assessments carried out at all the locations where Falkirk FC employees are working,” he said.

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5. Lewis Murphy, killed aged 18

Garage manager Glen Hawkins, sentenced in March 2005 to a nine-month prison term for the manslaughter of 18-year-old trainee Lewis Murphy (Hazards 90), was released shortly after, when the conviction was quashed at the Appeal Court.

The original trial had found Hawkins’ gross negligence led to the death of the trainee mechanic. He had helped the teenager pour a mixture of petrol and diesel into a waste oil tank at the Anchor Garage, Peacehaven. Fumes were sucked into the flue of a recently installed boiler sparking a massive fireball on 18 February 2004. Hawkins was injured; Lewis Murphy died three days later in hospital.

Garage owner Howard Hawkins, Glen Hawkins’ father, was fined £10,000 and £15,000 costs for failing to ensure the safety of his employees. He was told he would be jailed for six months if he failed to pay up.

Glen Hawkins’ release came after an Appeal Court judge ruled in June 2005 that a statement made by Hawkins should not have been admitted as evidence because it was prejudicial to the defendant.

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6. Ionit Simionica, killed aged 22

The death of 22-year-old Romanian construction worker Ionit Simionica on a central London construction site resulted in fines for the companies responsible for his death.

On 1 February 2005, three defendants received penalties totalling £95,000, plus costs of £60,000, at Southwark Crown Court, London. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted structural engineering consultant Lindsay Barr, principal contractor David O’Keefe & Co. Ltd and contractor Britin Construction Ltd, following an investigation into the death on 26 February 2001 of Ionit Simionica during refurbishment work at St Mary’s Church, Westminster. He was buried under a 1.5 tonne section of an unsupported wall during excavation work in a crypt.

Following sentencing HSE inspector Barry Mullen, who investigated the case, said “the fact remains that a young man died in an incident that could have easily been avoided, had appropriate and straightforward safety measures been in place.”

The inspector added that the dangers had been previously brought to the attention of both the structural engineer and the contractors. “The possible risks should have been addressed by uncomplicated measures including a detailed structural investigation, suitable and sufficient risk assessments and adequate protective measures, such as propping of the foundations,” he said.

Members of the Construction Safety Campaign handed out leaflets outside the court.

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7. Christopher Kesterton, killed aged 16

Conder Structures Ltd, the company that designed a steel column that fell on 16-year-old worker Christopher Kesterton, killing him instantly, was ordered to pay £160,000 in fines and costs.

Christopher, who had left school just weeks before the incident in 2000, was helping construct a warehouse in Leicestershire when he was struck by the 17-metre structure weighing almost two tonnes. He was the second person in four years to be killed in an accident linked to Conder Structures Limited, Leicester Crown Court was told.

Judge Christopher Metcalf, passing sentence in January 2004, said: “On 28 November 2000 a tragic but avoidable accident occurred… It was avoidable because if the proper design structures and supervision had been in place he would probably still be alive today.”

The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £59,374 costs. In 1996, an employee of Conder Structures Ltd was killed by a 3.5-tonne truss which fell on him. On that occasion the company was find £50,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

Construction Safety Campaign members protested outside the court, carrying placards calling for the jailing of company bosses responsible for deaths at work.

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8. Jimmy Hall, killed aged 21

Demolition firm Brown and Mason was fined £40,000 on 5 February 2003 after the death of 21-year-old worker Jimmy Hall at Blyth Power Station.

The London-based firm, which has a £12 million contract to demolish the power station, was fined £35,000 for failing to ensure the safety of its employees and £5,000 for failing to prepare a proper risk assessment.

The prosecution followed Jimmy’s death in May 2001. Mr Hall's mother Pat Henderson said she had hoped for a bigger fine to act as a deterrent to other construction companies.

She said: 'It was the first year Jimmy had been on the job and I don't think he was trained properly. The £40,000 is nothing to a company that size, they haven't had to go through what I've had to suffer. Jimmy's son was given compensation, but he'll never get the love Jimmy would have given him. I wanted justice for Jimmy, so that nobody goes through what I had to go through.”

Mr Hall was killed when assistant site manager Richard Brown - the son of one of firm's directors - cut a wire supporting a junction box that fell on to Mr Hall. Judge Guy Whitburn also ordered the company to pay £3,750 costs.

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9. Ben Pinkham, killed aged 21

A managing director was jailed for 12 months in July 2004 after 21-year-old apprentice Ben Pinkham was killed in a boatyard explosion.

Alan Mark, 45, managing director of Plymouth-based Nationwide Heating Systems Ltd, was convicted of Ben manslaughter. The 21-year-old was working at a boat manufacturer's in Plymouth when the blast occurred in February 2003. He was using a highly flammable solvent to clean a resin storage tank at the Princess Yachts International yard when the explosion occurred on 3 February 2003.

The boatyard was fined £90,000 with £10,000 costs. Exeter Crown Court heard Mr Pinkham had not been warned about the dangers of using the chemical in a confined space.

Mark, 45, had denied the charge of manslaughter. Nationwide Heating Systems Ltd was also found guilty of manslaughter. Both Mark and his company had pleaded guilty to three health and safety offences.

The firm and the managing director also admitted failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.

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10. Steven Parsons, killed aged 18

Steven Parsons was killed at work on 7 March 2000, aged 18 years. The trainee mechanic at Doncaster firm Truckraft Ltd was working under a 16 ton fairground lorry when it slipped off a supporting jack onto his head and torso, killing him instantly. No axle stands or other effective means of support had been used.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted both Truckraft Ltd and the firm’s owner Haydn Prior for safety offences exposed in an investigation into Steven’s death.

On 19 March 2002 the firm and Haydn Prior pleaded guilty. The firm was fined £14,000 payable at £500 a month. Haydn Prior was given a 12 month conditional discharge.

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Injured teens case histories

Robert Haywood, fingers amputated by unguarded machine, aged 18

A teenage construction worker laying concrete on the new Wembley Stadium site lost three fingers after his employer removed safety guards from a machine. On 17 July 2006, Ian Goom, trading as Aztec Screeding, of Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £3,028 costs at the City of London Magistrates Court.

Robert Haywood, 18 at the time of the incident, was involved in work to lay concrete flooring at Wembley National Stadium using a screed pump, a machine that first mixes the cement and then under high pressure pumps the cement through a pipe to the area being worked on.

On his fourth day at work on the site, 14 December 2004, a safety grill, designed to prevent access to the mixing paddles inside the machine, had been removed and a safety interlock switch had been overridden. Whilst emptying a bag of cement into the mixing chamber of the pump the young employee’s left hand was dragged into the machine. Three of his fingers were crushed requiring partial amputation down to his first knuckle.

Speaking after the case, investigating inspector Simon Hester said: “The risks associated employing young people are well known, managers of young persons should take into account their inexperience and possible lack of awareness in assessing potential dangers. Had Mr Goom ensured the screed pump on site was properly maintained, that the manufacturer’s operating instructions were followed and that his employee was adequately supervised, the accident involving Mr Haywood would not have happened.”

Goom pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 11, in that he did not ensure measures had been taken to prevent access to dangerous parts of machinery.

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Paul Lee Jarman, multiple injuries from fall, aged 23

A construction firm was fined £50,000 and costs of £23,000 in June 2006 after a trainee roofer suffered serious injuries in a fall.

Letchworth Roofing Company from Hertfordshire pleaded guilty at Birmingham Magistrates Court to safety offences which resulted in employee Paul Lee Jarman, who was 23 at the time of the incident, suffering a fractured jaw and soft tissue injuries. He fell approximately eight metres through a rooflight at an electrical goods store.

Prosecuting HSE inspector Mike Ford said: “It is unfortunate that on this occasion simple and cost effective measures were not put in place which would have prevented the fall that injured Paul Jarman. Companies need to realise the necessity of implementing appropriate safety measures to provide a safe working environment, preventing falls and avoiding injuries such as these.”

He added: “Preventing such injuries is the focus of the current Height Aware campaign, where we are asking people 'to take a moment and not a fall'. The campaign highlights that falls from height are the most common cause of work-related deaths. Every year, around 80 people are killed and more than 5,500 seriously injured as a result of falling from height.”

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Farm worker, leg amputated by harrow, aged 16

A boy had to have part of his leg amputated after his friend ran over it with a ploughing machine. The 16-year-old had been attempting to get into a tractor being driven by his 14-year-old pal, when he slipped and fell under the vehicles rear wheels. The spikes of a power harrow also went through his right leg.

The incident happened on Robert Beesley's farm, in the Market Harborough area, on 1 September 2005. Neither boy can be identified for legal reasons.

At Leicester Magistrates' Court in February 2006, Beesley admitted breaching the Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) code of practice. The court heard that under the rules, Beesley should not have let the 14-year-old carry passengers on the tractor, and should not have let him drive it at all with a power machine attached.
The law currently allows children aged 13 or above to drive tractors and operate machinery on farms.

Claire Hodges, prosecuting for HSE, said the 14-year-old driver worked for Beesley on his farm.

She said Beesley was charged under the section of the Health and Safety at Work Act which requires employers to ensure employees work safely, and added the accident was “entirely preventable”.

District Judge Richard Holland said the incident would have been prevented if there had been compliance with HSE's guidelines. He fined Beesley £5,000 and ordered him to pay £1,199 HSE costs.

Official figures show 46 children under 18 years old have died in accidents on farms in the last 11 years. Of the 46 reported deaths, 19 were under 6 years old; six between 6 and 10; 11 between 11 and 15; and 10 were 16 and 17 year olds.

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Samuel Phillips, crushed under vehicle, aged 16

A reclamation yard boss has been told to pay up £18,000 in fines and costs after he crushed a schoolboy in a forklift truck accident. John Masterson was driving the vehicle at his business, JM Reclamation in Coppull, when 16-year-old Samuel Phillips was caught under the wheel.

Leyland magistrates heard in 2005 how Mr Masterson regularly drove the truck with Samuel, who worked at the yard on a casual basis, carried along on the side. The teenager's legs were caught by the rear wheels of the forklift after he jumped off the vehicle. He fell, and the forklift ran over his face, causing serious injuries.

Investigations by Chorley council revealed the vehicle was inadequately maintained and there was no risk assessment for Samuel's work, the forklift truck operation or for moving, loading and unloading vehicles. The employees, including Samuel, had not been given health and safety training.

Asked by magistrates about risk assessments for his business and employees, Masterson replied that he “was a little bit ignorant on that”. He pleaded guilty to three charges including failure to ensure the safety of his employees or to maintain equipment in an efficient state. He was fined a total of £15,000, with £3,000 costs.

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Leonardo Viera, serious burns from pasta boiler, teenager

The City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council has successfully prosecuted The Restaurant Group plc for failing to report an accident within 10 days and failing to protect its employees.

A teenage kitchen worker suffered serious burns to his legs from a faulty pasta boiler at Frankie and Benny’s Restaurant in Bradford city centre. Leonardo Vieira, a Portuguese national who spoke no English, was scalded when he accidentally knocked open a drain connector, which had become stuck.

The investigation by environmental health officer (EHO) Tracey Buchanan revealed systemic failings within the company. Although a documented safety policy and a risk assessment were available, both failed to ensure that all employees were adequately trained.

The company’s health and safety policy instructed the restaurant manager to report any machine fault and mark the machinery ‘out of use’. Unfortunately the restaurant manager had not been made aware of any such requirements. Their own internal accident investigation was virtually non-existent.

The company had adopted a training matrix system, however the investigation revealed that the kitchen manager had countersigned his own training records.

The company employs a large number of non-English speaking employees, yet none of the health and safety information was translated.

Although the company stated that it had an interactive CD ROM this was not available at the Bradford branch.

The company pleaded guilty and was fined £15,000 for failing to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees and a further £3,000 for failing to report the accident within 10 days.

They were ordered to pay £5,000 in compensation to the injured person and legal costs of £16,875.

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When safety authorities in the Canadian province of British Columbia asked young workers what it would take to reduce the workplace accident rate, they said it would need something pretty shocking.

The result was a series of radio ads an online campaign with an uncompromising message. “Know your rights, Ask for training. Demand safety.” Graphic posters – very graphic, and certainly not for the squeamish – were displayed in bars, restaurants and on construction sites.

Images in the “Demand Safety” campaign package, launched in June 2006, show a severed thumb, hand and an ear, with scalp attached. Another shows an eyeball. All have a price tag attached –the hourly rate for the job.

Launching the campaign in June 2006, WorkSafeBC warned: “Please be aware that the radio ads, posters, and website are graphic and disturbing. The posters and the website show dismembered body parts and the radio ads are gruesome. Viewer discretion is advised.”

“What young people told us in focus groups is that they want to see consequences,” said Scott McCloy, director of communications with the province’s safety watchdog WorkSafeBC. “They want to understand what can happen to them in the workplace. They want to be shocked.” He added: “We're trying to create a generation that understands what the hazards are.”

The BCWorkSafe “Demand Safety” campaign website gives this quick checklist for workers new to the job:

• What are the dangers of my job?
• When will I get my safety training?
• What safety gear and equipment should I use? When will I be trained on how to use it?
• What do I do if there’s a fire? Where are the fire extinguishers?
• Who’s my supervisor and what do I do if I have a safety question?
• Who’s on the safety committee and when are the meetings?
• Who’s the first aid person and where do I go if I get hurt?

Young workers are also told of the excellent safety rights enjoyed by Canadian employees, including “the right to know”, “the right to participate” and “right to refuse” (Hazards 89).

WorkSafeBC says: “Demand Safety materials include personal testimonials from young people who have been hurt on the job. These testimonials give meaning to the statistics, driving home the point that every worker is vulnerable. The campaign will also educate workers about their right to demand safety and explain how to speak to their superiors about workplace dangers.”

The safety watchdog has an online Young Worker Centre for young workers, parents, educators, employers and others interested in helping young people and their employers to create safe workplaces.

Demand Safety
WorkSafeBC Young Worker Centre


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The young person effect

The European Agency for Health and Safety at Work, in its ‘Why young people’ guide, says young workers are less likely to recognise the risk of accidents or ill-health than older workers for a number of reasons. It adds if they do recognise the risks they may be less able to take appropriate action, and may be physically or mentally less able to carry out certain tasks or work.

The young person factor

• Lack of awareness of occupational health and safety risks
• Inexperience and unfamiliarity with the job they are doing, and their surroundings
• Lack of skill/training in the job they are doing
• Physical or mental immaturity
• Being given jobs that are beyond their capabilities
• Lack of occupational health and safety information/training
• Lack of awareness of employers, duties, and their own rights and responsibilities
• Not paying enough attention to health and safety
• Lack of confidence to raise occupational health and safety issues

The employer factor

• Lack of awareness that young people have less experience, skill and training about occupational health and safety and about the job they are doing
• Giving young workers jobs beyond their capabilities
• Not providing adequate information, instruction and training
• Not providing adequate supervision on the job - young people are likely to need more supervision than older workers
• Not taking account of young workers during risk assessments
• Recruiters not knowing how to gauge the suitability of a job for young persons

Structural factors

• Temporary contracts
• Part-time work
• Low-paid work where no training or limited training is provided
• Jobs where there is a high staff turnover rate
• Unskilled work
• Low/precarious status – so in a weak position to complain of problems
• Lower rate of trade union membership
• Work in small firms and some sectors where there is a poorer safety culture
• Vulnerability to harassment and bullying from colleagues because of their low status or because they are new.

Why young people. European Agency Euroweek 2006 “Safe Start” campaign factsheet.

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