BALI Workshops - Mowing on slopes + Control of vibration and noise in amenity/landscaping

24 September 2014

The British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) is hosting another health and safety event - on the risks and different methods for managing work on steep slopes.
The event is taking place at Severn Trent’s large reservoir at Draycote Water, Warwickshire, on Wednesday, 22nd October 2014. This venue will provide an ideal testing ground for a range of specialised machinery which will be demonstrated throughout the day. 

Alan Plom (RIG’s Vice Chair)  writes:

This event has been organised in response to several HSE prosecutions of local authorities.  The most recent involved Cirencester Town Council following a mower operator being injured when his machine overturned while working on a (very) steep slope.

The Council was fined a total of £29,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act on 4 August. The court heard that the ride-on mower used was not suitable for work on slopes of more than 25 degrees - but it was working on a 64 degree slope! The mower tipped over and landed on the grass throwing him off.  He was then hit by the machine and lucky to survive with ‘just’ four fractured ribs and bruising. His injuries caused him to be off work for two months and he was only able to work on light duties for a further month on his return.

This incident is reported to have occurred due to the grass being ~2 feet high, making it difficult for the operator to see the ground conditions, which was uneven with potholes. Also, an inclinometer was not fitted to the mower, so he was not fully aware of the angle of the slope. The local authority was also criticised for inadequate training and failing to carry out an adequate risk assessment.

Pictures of the site are also available on the BBC News page and Horticulture Week carried an interesting article on 22 August.  This quoted Neil Huck (Technical Director of BALI) and alerted companies and local authorities to the potential impact of this case on the amenity sector.  There is now increased pressure to provide inclinometers and spend more money on suitable equipment.  The journal went on to review a range of suitable machinery.

The BALI event on 22 October will be a good opportunity for contractors and LA staff managing grounds maintenance and landscaping operations to benchmark methods of work involving a range of machinery and receive best practice advice from industry specialists.  HSE will also be presenting an update.
Entry for BALI members is £6 per person (covering lunch and refreshments) and the event is also open to non-BALI members for £10. Early booking is recommended as this event is proving to be very popular. Further details and booking arrangements are available on the BALI website .

BALI Workshop on Vibration and Noise (13 March) – Report

BALI’s  ‘Working on Slopes’ event follows their very successful and informative workshop on Vibration, Noise and Occupational Health issues, held at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, on 13 March 2014. RIG’s Vice Chair Alan Plom attended this ‘sell-out’ event, organised in response to concerns in the industry following an alarming increase in injury claims relating to hand arm vibration (HAVS) and some high profile prosecutions and enforcement action by HSE involving landscaping and grounds maintenance. 

Alan highlights some relevant cases and summarises the event:

Wirral Council was fined £35,000 in January 2013 after 29 parks and leisure department staff were diagnosed with debilitating and ongoing problems with their hands.

Another recent case involved use of hedge-cutters and strimmers by a contractor’s employees, maintaining the grounds of a naval base in Cornwall.  An investigation by HSE found 3 workers suffering from HAVS.  Their employer (Babcock Flagship Ltd) knew that their workers had health problems either caused or aggravated by vibration between 2009 and 2011, but had failed to apply measures that would reduce exposure.  All three were diagnosed with HAVS or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) by occupational health providers in January 2012.
HSE also found that the company had not risk-assessed the use of the tools properly.
Babcock Flagship Ltd pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs. 

A brief report of the BALI event and some of the PowerPoints presented on the day (including those used by the 3 HSE and HSL Specialists) are available to download on the BALI website.  HSE’s proposed Information Sheet on Controlling HAV in amenity work has been delayed, pending further research to measure levels generated on a range of typical machines in service.  However, these ppts provide excellent practical advice and describe HSE’s expectations for control of risks from Hand Arm and Whole-body Vibration, controlling Noise at Work and on Health Surveillance.

Other speakers and exhibitors (from manufacturers and leading contractors) also covered practical aspects of measurement of HAV and noise, developments in engine design and dust suppression. There were also a number of static exhibits, including a new device built into gloves for real-time measuring of hand-arm vibration.

An informative article reviewing the event was also published in the Spring edition (p22) of Landscape News

Due to demand, these events are likely to be repeated elsewhere in the country.