Balfour Beatty fined £600k over crush death as ‘documentary’ controls ignored

Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering has been fined £600,000 after pleading guilty to failing to implement  control measures that existed only in “documentary format”, but could have prevented the death of a worker who was crushed by a 14 tonne wheeled excavator.

Ian Walker, a supervisor/ganger on Aberdeen’s Third Don Crossing, was killed in a collision with the vehicle on 13 January 2016 following an identified “high risk activity” – refuelling.

Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering was the principal contractor on the £23m project, which involves building a new bridge and approach roads; Walker was employed by Balfour Beatty Employment.

According to informatiofrom Balfour Beatty published shortly after the event, the incident happened after the excavator had been refuelled from a static tank on the site.

“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the civil engineering company to implement safe systems of work, and to ensure that health and safety documentation was communicated and control measures followed”.

Health & Safety

10 ways to make work safer in 2019

Brexit, of course, but health and safety will also be impacted by many other agendas. Jocelyn Dorrell and Elaine Knutt survey the trends and the experts.

Crystal ball gazing is always a difficult sport, but at the beginning of 2019 the view is clouded by the “B word”. With the uncertainties and ramifications laid out in every news bulletin, it’s impossible to predict what shape Brexit might take, or to extrapolate implications for health and safety.

Except, of course, that Brexit is having a braking effect on other aspects of the UK’s legislative agenda. Whether it’s the regime change needed to fully implement the Hackitt Review, or the civil service capacity to respond to the dearth of occupational health provision, or the HSE having to draw up extensive contingency plans on chemical regulation under a no-deal Brexit, the issue of our times is undoubtedly sucking staff resources, time and energy away from other agendas.

Brexit uncertainty will also be affecting business planning cycles at many organisations.

However, according to IT consultancy Verdantix, above-inflation levels of investment are being found for new health and safety management software to help boost compliance – and organisations’ reputational capital, particularly as voluntary reporting initiatives are gaining ground.

Perhaps the underlying economic uncertainty has also dulled businesses’ appetite for accruing management standards accreditations: uptake of the ISO 45001 on health and safety has been “below predictions”. A better economic outlook, and the security that comes with it, might encourage more registrations, although it’s likely that a spurt will only be seen closer to the March 2021 deadline for migration from BS OHSAS 18001.

However, in the context of Brexit, organisations might want to think about ISO 45001 as a form of passport. “Besides the normal business benefits, this is a globally accepted standard. In this era of shifting trading blocks and barriers, it will provide the passport to transcend national boundaries,” says consultant Chris Ward, who helped to draft the standard and now audits to it.

“As the economy inches forward, working lives become longer and technology marches ahead, health and safety can expect to be at heart of them”

Growing use of “disruptive” technology is an inescapable theme for 2019. As we increasingly adopt devices such as the Alexa and Google Assistant at home, the possibilities offered by interactive devices, machine learning and real-time “algorithmic management” fall within reach.

While the overall effect of technology adoption is likely to be positive boosts to productivity, creativity and job opportunities, concerns about the impact on both workers and the resilience of our regulatory framework are beginning to be heard. A report by EU-OSHA argued that new psychosocial and organisational hazards will need better definitions of liabilities and responsibilities, while IOSH has suggested that a code of ethics on the use of robots and artificial intelligence will be needed to ensure that work places remain people-centred.

Of course, mental health, stress and psychosocial risk at work will be a continuing  theme. Levels of reported stress, depression and anxiety have been tracking upwards for the past decade; the coming year, likely to be bring more uncertainty and continued “austerity”, is unlikely to buck the trend.

What could change, however, is organisations’ reactions and sense of responsibility. To date, the narrative around mental health has been that it is an individual issue, requiring responses targeted at individuals: from “yogurt and yoga” to telephone counselling to mental health first aid provision.

In 2019, the narrative is expected to broaden, with more awareness of the organisational and social factors that put so many of us at risk. “Responses need to be built into the fabric of the way you do business, it’s not just about buying a commercial product,” says psychologist  Dr Joanna Wilde, who sits on the HSE’s Workplace Health Expert Committee.

The coming year will bring interesting times and interesting debates. As the economy inches forward, working lives become longer and technology marches ahead, health and safety can expect to be at heart of them.


With Brexit likely to dominate in 2019, IOSH puts in a plea for more focus on the “bread and butter” issues of health and safety regulation. Richard Jones, head of policy and public affairs, says: “We need better compliance with our current legislation through improved guidance, education and enforcement and sensibly plugging existing gaps, such as on occupational exposure limits and fire safety.

“We must also promote understanding that regulation is a social and economic good, helping organisations do the right thing, levelling the playing field and protecting vulnerable workers.”

But Brexit is, of course, inescapable, and Jones has a warning for legislators. “We need to guard against any erosion of occupational safety and health standards post-Brexit and ensure the UK continues to improve,” he adds.

The British Safety Council is also hoping – perhaps optimistically – that 2019 will bring stability rather than legislative upheaval.

Its chair, Lawrence Waterman, said: “In this time of uncertainty, and against a background of rapidly changing working arrangements driven by technology and new forms of employment … it is crucial to recognise the strength of our health and safety system and legal framework.”

“Sodium chlorate is not approved for use in weedkillers, as a safe level of use was not established for operators”

HSE inspector Sarah Dutton

However, the British Safety Council hopes to see some updates, including “ensuring that the legal protections afforded to many workers are extended and properly applied to those working in the ‘gig’ economy”.

Waterman also points to an issue that is gaining more attention: the impact on enforcement of the long lean years of “austerity”. “We wish to see an end to the long squeeze on local authority and HSE budgets. If you hollow out regulators’ ability to enforce the law, talking about legislative improvements is pointless.”

One open question is whether 2019 will bring renewed HSE enforcement on work-related stress and psychosocial risk: anecdotally, members of the regulator’s staff are said to view the possibility positively.

“The conversation is active and everywhere,” notes Dr Joanne Wilde, an organisational psychologist and member of the HSE’s Workplace Health Expert Committee. However, with other priorities claiming the HSE’s attention – did we mention Brexit? – few would actively back that horse.

Another issue to look out for is an earlier-than-planned post-implementation review (PIR) of the CDM Regulations 2015.

Read more here.

Business Diversity

Why diversity is good for your business (and not just your bottom line)

Focusing on the bottom line is dangerous and counterproductive. Here’s the real business case for diversity.

We’ve heard a lot about the business case for diversity and inclusion recently. “Inclusion is key to your bottom line”, argued the CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering. In 2015, McKinsey examined the finances and composition of top management and boards of 366 public companies in Canada, Latin America, the US and the UK. Their results suggested that the more racially and ethnically diverse companies were also 35% more likely to have higher financial returns. For companies with higher gender diversity, the figure was 15%. Academic research conducted by MIT economists in 2014, which looked at data from one large US company, demonstrated that revenues increased when offices became more gender diverse. Stephen Frost’s The Inclusion Imperativeshowed how the London Olympic and Paralympic Games created a more diverse workspace and better business. These are but a few examples of a wider trend. As one Financial Times article summarised, “the evidence is growing – there really is a business case for diversity”.

However, equating the “business case” with the financial bottom line only is both dangerous and counterproductive. Even studies like McKinsey’s are careful to stress that correlation does not equal causation. Other factors matter too. Untangling them to demonstrate robust causal links is exceedingly difficult, especially in larger samples. Beyond this, there is also the question of what this line of argument assumes. In particular, as scholars like Cordelia Fine suggest, the “bottom line” argument places an unhelpful onus on women and minorities to justify their inclusion by positively contributing to corporate financial performance, rather than on the majority to justify their continued prevalence. In a context where non-inclusive organisations continually fail, including financially, this is curious to say the least.

Instead, if there should be a “business case” for diversity and inclusion, this is more productively focused on how greater diversity and inclusion contributes to better work and business more broadly: for individuals and for organisations.

Read more here.

Sports person

How the Premier League became an export superstar

In July, the Brand Manager Pursuivant to the Royal Family will have awoken to the same sobering news that greeted the Chancellors of Britain’s noblest seats of learning on the Cherwell, Cam and Thames.

Pollsters Populus had surveyed 20,000 people from 20 countries and territories about 10 of the UK’s best-known institutions, companies and brands. Each one was rated for modernity, excitement, trust, global recognition and whether it enhanced the wider UK brand. The survey’s startling conclusion was that all the pomp and pageantry of our royal weddings, all the traditional excellence of our dreaming spires, simply didn’t stack up against a Monday night relegation dogfight between Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town.

That is because that particular globally televised scrap – almost certainly taking place in the driving rain before a roaring crowd – is one of 380 annual fixtures in the Premier League which, the survey said, is simply the biggest British brand in the world.

Read more here.


4th Dimension – Summer breeze!

The team have been involved in various activities over the last few months to ensure we practise what we preach when it comes to taking head on challenges and sometimes tough conditions!


Jenny Sjollema Hackney Half Marathon

Peter and Jenny took part in the Hackney Half Marathon in May. It was a rather hot day and Peter achieved a personal best. Jenny managed to do it in just over 3 hours, with new trainers and achy toes.


Peter Race to stones

Peter and Tony, with brother John in tow (literally), completed the Yorkshire 3 Peaks Challenge in June, covering over 42 km and over 1000m of up hill struggle.

Peter also completed the Race to the Stones with his daughter Nicola, covering in just 2 days over 100km along England oldest footpath, cutting from the Chilterns in Oxfordshire across the Thames to the North Wessex Downs, the trail has existed for 5,000 years.


Tony Copsey Bike Ride

Tony got on his bike and took on 3 challenges – the 316 in Marjorca; raising money for the Welsh Rugby Charitable Trust he completed a 386km bike ride around Wales with other former Welsh Rugby International’s Ryan Jones, Colin Charvis, Rupert Moon, Richard Parks and Robyn McBride; and finally just for laughs the Coast to Coast ‘Way of the Roses’ – a 274km ride taking him from Morecombe on the West Coast to Bridlington on the East coast over the Yorkshire dales in the wind and rain.

Peter Bleeze Cycle Ride

Pete Bleeze, our Health & Safety Consultant, achieved two bike rides and the Great East Swim.

The first bike ride across the two southernmost states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala perfectly depict the contrasting nature of India a total of 420 miles in just 10 day.

His second much more changing ride was up and over the High Atlas Mountain of Morocco. The challenge here was not only the challenging climbs to the summits but the temperature up to 50 degrees.

Pete’s third challenge was to complete the Great East swim in aid of MacMillan. Sadly this year his time was just a few seconds slower than his time for last year.

Ed Tapp Bike Ride

But all the above was smashed out of the park by Ed Tapp, our consultant who completed the Trans America bike race. This is without doubt one of the longest and hardest ultra-endurance cycle races in the world.

He set off with 100 other cyclists from all over the world to cycle the  4,200 miles across the US continent from West to East. He crossed 10 states, climbed the Rockies, battled head winds over the Great Plains and avoided storms and tornados in Kansas to complete the journey into York Town, Virginia in 23 days (15th place). Typically averaging between 180 – 260 miles per day Ed described it simply as an adventure of a lifetime.

Find out more about our team here.


Client Project Update By Peter Copsey – Director Fourth Dimension

Over the last few months our clients continue to keep us busy, despite the general economic uncertainties. They remain resilient seeking fresh input to find new ways to reduce cost, increase capacities, improve service, quality and support people driven performance.

In a snapshot, we have:

Designed a new layout and process flow to increase capacity for a joinery company to support the roll out of their major contract with McDonalds. This provided units for McDonalds latest fit out within their restaurants up and down the UK, consisting of upgraded decor with soft wood effect.

Working with an innovative lighting controls company, who are developing a new control system for smart buildings and engaging with new supplier sources for electronic manufacturing.

Working in a Basildon factory manufacturing modular housing in cross laminated timber. Having completed early builds the team are working to develop and implement the capabilities and processes to deliver a targeted 300 to 400 new homes a year. This represents a productivity double the speed of a traditional site build. The first deliveries to site have been completed, with a challenging ramp up in volumes planned over the next 3 months.

Working with a large pharmaceutical business to advance their planning, purchasing and inventory processes.

With the same pharma company, to advance their management team performance based on a recent Leadership Discovery and Diagnostic Review.

Supported our client through some difficult HR restructuring issues to reshape their operations team.

Advanced a number of our clients beyond Level 1 Health & Safety Compliance towards best practice safety standards.

Find out more about out Health & Safety services here.

Ikea Bristol

Ikea fined £100,000 after unguarded roof-top fan sliced worker’s fingers

The UK division of global furniture retailer Ikea has been fined £100,000 after a worker lost part of two fingers during maintenance work on a roof-mounted fan at its Bristol store.

The incident, at the city’s Eastgate Shopping Centre on 21 November 2016, was investigated and prosecuted by Bristol City Council.

A maintenance engineer was checking a fault on a fan located on the roof of the building when the accident occurred.

Council health and safety officers found that the fan and eight others on the roof were not guarded, while no risk assessment or training had been undertaken for the task.

In addition, there was no adequate risk assessment in place for fault-finding or maintenance work of this kind, and the engineer had received no health and safety training from Ikea for this work.

On 3 October, Ikea’s UK division pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £6,407 to Bristol City Council.

Senior managers from Ikea were in court for the hearing, according to the council.

A letter from a board member was read out which expressed remorse for the incident and said that the lessons learned from this case been shared throughout the business.

Read more here.

Coca-Cola buys Costa Coffee from Whitbread for £3.9bn

The soft drinks giant Coca-Cola is buying the Costa Coffee chain in a near-£4bn deal that underlines the scale of the global coffee revolution.

The takeover will overnight turn Coca-Cola into the UK’s biggest coffee shop player and give it a foothold in what is one of the world’s fastest-growing drinks categories. The global coffee shop market alone is worth $165bn (£127bn).

Alison Brittain, the chief executive of Costa Coffee’s owner Whitbread, said the coffee chain had been approached by a number of potential buyers but Coke’s desire to snap up the 4,000-store chain was a “dream deal” for investors.

Read more here.

The UK needs a manufacturing resurgence – and a weak pound

OPINION: Productivity growth depends on industrial investment, which demands an active approach to the national currency, argues JML founder John Mills.

Productivity growth in the UK economy is almost non-existent. Many people find this fact puzzling. However, there’s a simple reason why, and there’s a relatively simple solution too – if only we can bring ourselves to face up to it.

If we want to rebalance our economy, and get our productivity up, we need to make manufacturing profitable again. We need to create the conditions whereby it makes sense to site new manufacturing facilities in the UK instead of China or Germany or Holland.

But to do this, we need a much lower exchange rate. This would make the prices we charge for goods to be sold to world markets much more competitive. We might not all agree with this strategy but it is the only way we are ever going to crack the UK productivity puzzle.

The UK’s low productivity is the result of two factors. Economic growth stems very largely from investment. Currently, we invest a very small proportion of our national income compared to most other countries, and what we do invest in produces very small returns.

Read more here.

What CEOs are reading

Last month I wrote about the ‘loveliness’ of leadership aspired to by Adam Smith (1723-1790), the founding father of free market capitalism. Lo and behold, this month we not only have a brilliant book about the man on our list (Adam Smith – What He Thought And Why It Matters by Jesse Norman), but also we’ve been besotted in actual, real life, by a ‘lovely leader’ in the Smithian mould – England manager Gareth Southgate.

He may not have brought football home this time, but he has at least changed the culture of football management today, tomorrow and for a long time to come.


Thomas W Malone

The founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence shows how groups of people working together in superminds – like hierarchies, markets, democracies, and communities – have been responsible for almost all human achievements in business, government, science, and beyond.

Read more here.