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Prison sentence for asbestos related negligence

Two former businessmen have been sentenced by an Italian court to 16 years in jail for negligence that contributed to the asbestos related deaths of over 2,000 people, reports the Scotsman.Stephan Schmidheiny, from Switzerland, was the former owner of Swiss construction firm Eternit, and Jean Louis Marie Ghislain De Cartier De Marchienne, from Belgium, was a former executive and shareholder. They were charged with deliberately failing to implement measures to prevent damage from asbestos exposure at the firm's fibre cement making plants in Italy.The trial began in December 2009, and since then has heard evidence linking 2,100 deaths to exposure to asbestos fibres at the plants. The court also awarded financial compensation to over 6,300 victims or family members of people who died or became ill as a result of asbestos exposure while working at the factories.

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Construction firm fined over £100k after death

A 23-year-old man died from massive crush injuries when his head became trapped in the jaws of a grab machine being wrongly used to move a pallet of cement bags.Steven Allen was part of a team working for Skipton-based construction company JN Bentley Ltd on a building project for Bradford Council in March 2007. Moving the 30 or so cement bags was to be the last job before the weekend when the incident happened.Bradford Crown Court heard that workers used a block grab attached to an excavator to move the load. As they did, the bags fell two metres to the ground, but the pallet remained in the jaws of the block grab. The pallet pivoted and Steven Allen took hold of it to pull it free. As the pallet came away, the jaws dropped and clamped on Steven’s head, causing severe injuries. He died the following day.After an investigation, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) mounted the prosecution against Mr Allen’s employers. The court was told the HSE’s findings revealed that the grab was being used against manufacturer’s instructions and was not suitable for the job. Block grabs are designed to lift and move rectangular loads strapped together such as packs of bricks. The company had also failed to implement a safe system for lifting and transporting the bags of cement.The company had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £106,250 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000.HSE Principal Inspector, Dave Redman, said:"It shouldn’t take a death to remind employers that failure to properly plan the work can have tragic consequences. An alternative way of lifting the pallet should have been used. Pallets are designed to be lifted using fork attachments which could have been fitted to the excavator.  This would have prevented the incident which led to Steven Allen’s death. If employers take their eye off the ball, it’s all too easy for otherwise safe and routine tasks to turn into unacceptable risks."

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Funding boost for victims’ services

In an overhaul of victims’ services, up to £50 million would be generated from offenders to help create a speedier, more supportive system for victims of serious crime.Criminals will be forced to fund victims' support services and those with unspent convictions could be banned from claiming compensation, under new proposals announced by Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke. The planned shake-up, which is now out to public consultation, includes:

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Renewed calls to improve road safety

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is renewing its call on the government to make driving on rural A-roads a mandatory part of the driving test. IAM research shows that 82% of rural fatal and serious casualties are on single carriageway roads compared with just 18% on motorways and dual carriageway roads. However the current driving test fails to take this into account. While good instructors understand that experience on a wide variety of roads in different conditions gives young people the best chance of survival, all too many merely educate up to the existing test standard. Knowledge of parking, emergency stops and low speed manoeuvres is important but dealing with high speed corners, bad weather, and overtaking are far more vital skills. The recent report from the IAM 'The fast and the curious', found that new drivers themselves felt unprepared for real life scenarios and would welcome extra help. The IAM has written to the road safety minister to outline its views on how it believes the government should tackle deaths and accidents of the highest risk group on our roads, young drivers. This starts with improving the driving test to include training on our most dangerous roads – single-carriageway rural A-roads.IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “Driver and rider error is a contributory factor in two thirds of accidents. We can only improve our cars and roads so far. The challenge now is to improve the humans that drive them, to continue our outstanding record of road safety.”

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Two drivers share responsibility for car crash

The Court of Session has ruled that responsibility for a car crash that killed two people and severely injured a third was shared equally between two of the drivers involved, reports the Scotsman.Thirteen-year-old Kaya McInnes survived the accident, which happened in the Highlands in 2007, but was so badly injured she needed to learn to walk again. It was recognised that she was entitled to compensation, however liability for payment was disputed between the insurance companies of the two drivers at fault. The Court ruling means that both companies, Norwich Union and Axa, will both be liable to pay an equal share of the compensation. According to the Scotsman, the exact amount of money involved has not been revealed.

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Review into safety of cosmetic treatments

Following recent concerns regarding French Poly Implant Prostheses implants, the Government has announced a review, led by Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS Medical Director, to look at the arrangements for ensuring the safety of people seeking cosmetic interventions such as breast implants and dermal fillers.In addition, the Care Quality Commission is to conduct a swift review of private clinics that offer cosmetic surgery. They will look at whether they meet essential levels of safety and quality and at the information and support they provide to their patients. Where a provider does not meet these requirements, the CQC has a wide range of enforcement powers that it can use to protect the safety of patients. Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, said:“The safety of people who decide to have cosmetic surgery or a cosmetic intervention is my sole aim. The vast majority of practitioners in the cosmetic industry are professional and well skilled – but I’m concerned that the sector as a whole does not have the systems for monitoring the results for patients and alerting us to possible problems.“I will work with the industry to improve regulation and governance and increase consumer confidence.”

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Steel beam falls and fatally injures worker

A specialist crane supplier has been fined £180,000 after a worker was killed when a large steel beam fell on him at an incinerator in Slough, Berkshire. Colin Dickson, 38, of Motherwell, died when the temporary suspension points on a suspended beam he was under failed. The 1.4 tonne beam fell five metres onto Mr Dickson causing fatal injuries to his chest, and fractures to his legs and back. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Mr Dickson's employers J H Carruthers Ltd and one of its supervisors after an investigation into how the lifting operation failed. The HSE investigation found that the lifting operation could have been successful if the whole process had been planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner from the outset. HSE's Inspector Karen Morris said: "This tragic incident shows the importance of carrying out a thorough assessment of hazards and properly managing all lifting operations. This was a complex and unusual lift which went drastically wrong due to a lack of competent planning and a failure to supervise and carry out the task safely. The risks involved in such lifting operations should not be underestimated. "Health and safety law places stringent requirements on employers in these circumstances, for very good reason. This incident was entirely preventable and it should act as a reminder to others that standards need to be maintained to ensure the safety of workers at all times." J H Carruthers Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm was fined £180,000 and ordered to pay costs of £74,000.

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Adventure activities consultation

A consultation on the development of a safety system for adventure activities in Scotland has been launched by the Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, Shona Robison.The Scottish Government is considering the best way forward for Scotland in light of the UK Government's plan to replace the statutory Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA) with a new voluntary code of practice.The AALA was established in 1995 to licence caving, climbing, trekking and watersports operators after four young people lost their lives canoeing at Lyme Bay in Dorset.The consultation seeks views on three proposals:

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Action needed to tackle drug driving

A recent survey by road safety charity Brake and Direct Line Car Insurance has revealed that one in nine young drivers (11%) has driven after taking illegal drugs in the past year. The survey also found that 3% of young drivers (age 17-24) said they get behind the wheel after taking drugs once a month or more. Slightly more young drivers are admitting drug driving than four years ago, when one in eleven young drivers (9%) owned up to this potentially deadly behaviour.Brake is calling for long-needed reform, including:

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New Rules for Private Landlords

Private landlords who rent out residential property either by themselves or via a letting agency are now subject to new rules pertaining to deposits paid by an incoming tenant.

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First time buyers' relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax

The window of opportunity for first time buyers to benefit from relief from stamp duty land tax in transactions with considerations not exceeding £250,000 will close on 24th March 2012.Stamp duty land tax is ordinarily payable on the purchase of residential property at the rate of 1% for considerations over £125,000 but  not exceeding £250,000 (with higher rates of tax applying to considerations over £250,000).The Budget on 24th March 2010 created a 2 year period within which relief from stamp duty land tax was given to first time buyers where the price paid for a house did not exceed £250,000.I n a few short weeks that relief will end and first time buyers will again have to find additional sums to meet the tax liability which in the current depressed market conditions  is unlikely in many cases  to be easily achievable.The removal of the relief will be another obstacle in the revitalisation of the residential property market.

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Construction worker killed when crane overturned

A construction company and its managing director have been sentenced after a father-of-two was crushed to death when a crane overturned in Liverpool.

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Compensation awarded for bank slip injury

A woman from Edinburgh has been awarded compensation after slipping on a wet floor in a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, reports the BBC.

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Successful recovery of your commercial debts

As you may have learned recently in the media, the former Chief Executive of Rangers FC, Martin Bain, is claiming at least £960,000 damages from Rangers FC in connection with the termination of his employment.  Following a recent Court Hearing, Mr. Bain was granted Warrant by the Court to arrest £480,000 of funds  due to Rangers “on the dependence of his claim”.

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Golfers: Potential Liability for Causing Injury

Many of you will have read recently in the Press about the compensation claim brought by a visitor to Niddrie Golf Club against both the Golf Club itself and the member golfer whose wayward tee shot hit him in the eye.

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Blacksmith fined after worker falls from roof

A self-employed blacksmith and fabricator has been fined after one of his employees was severely injured when he fell more than seven metres from a roof he was working on.

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Law Commission reports on partnership criminal liability

As part of its Eighth Programme of Law Reform, the Scottish Law Commission conducted a short-term project on partnership criminal liability, the results of which have now been published in the Commission's Report on the Criminal Liability of Partnerships.

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Sentencing after Telford fireball incident

A company and its manager have been fined after two workers were engulfed in a fireball when they cut through a live 1,000 volt electrical cable at an industrial unit in Telford.

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Woman awarded damages for childhood injuries

A woman from Norfolk has been awarded over £9 million in compensation for injuries she received as a child, reports the BBC.

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Housebuilder fined after child seriously injured

A housebuilder has been fined £20,000 after a young boy was seriously injured when some timber roof trusses fell onto him.

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