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The Grenfell Tower tragedy, which unfolded on the night of June 14, 2017, is a stark and heart-wrenching reminder of the vital importance of safety and the sanctity of human life. This devastating fire claimed the lives of 72 residents, leaving countless others injured and entire communities shattered. As we reflect on this catastrophic event, it is crucial to emphasise the paramount importance of safety in all aspects of our lives, especially in our homes, which should be sanctuaries of security and peace.

Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey residential building in North Kensington, London, was home to a diverse and vibrant community. On that fateful night, a small kitchen fire rapidly escalated into a full-scale inferno, fuelled by the building’s cladding, which was later found to be highly flammable. The speed and ferocity of the blaze left many residents with little chance to escape, and the harrowing images of the burning tower remain etched in our collective memory.

The tragedy of Grenfell was not merely an unfortunate accident; it was a preventable disaster. Investigations revealed a series of safety failures, from the inadequate fire safety measures within the building to the use of non-compliant cladding materials. These findings highlighted systemic issues in building regulations, maintenance practices, and the enforcement of safety standards. The residents of Grenfell Tower had raised concerns about fire safety long before the disaster, but their voices went unheard.

In remembering Grenfell, we must honour the lives lost by ensuring such a tragedy never happens again. Every individual has the right to feel safe in their home, and it is the responsibility of governments, regulatory bodies, and building owners to uphold this right. Robust safety standards, regular inspections, and swift responses to resident concerns are non-negotiable aspects of this responsibility.

The Grenfell tragedy has catalysed a broader conversation about fire safety and building regulations, prompting a re-evaluation of policies and practices. It has spurred changes, such as the banning of combustible cladding on high-rise buildings and the implementation of stricter safety protocols. However, these changes must be diligently enforced and continuously updated to reflect the latest safety standards and technologies.

Moreover, Grenfell has underscored the importance of community and the power of collective action. The resilience and solidarity shown by the survivors, the bereaved families, and the wider community have been truly inspiring. Their advocacy and relentless pursuit of justice have kept the spotlight on fire safety issues, ensuring that the lessons from Grenfell are not forgotten.

As we move forward, it is essential to foster a culture of safety and vigilance. This means not only adhering to regulations but also actively engaging with and listening to the concerns of residents. It means investing in the latest safety technologies and ensuring that buildings, especially those housing vulnerable populations, are equipped with comprehensive fire safety measures.

The legacy of Grenfell should be one of change and improvement. By taking proactive steps to prioritise safety, we can honour the memory of those who perished and ensure that their loss leads to a safer future for all. The Grenfell Tower tragedy was a profound loss, but from it, we must draw the resolve to protect every life, acknowledging that safety is a fundamental human right and the foundation of a just and compassionate society.


In remembrance of Grenfell, let us commit to a future where such a tragedy is inconceivable, a future where every home is a safe haven, and where the value of every human life is recognised and protected.

A man who narrowly survived an e-bike battery fire that killed his partner and two children says he is tormented by grief and guilt but is determined to fight to change the law to avoid similar tragedies.

Scott Peden, 31, was placed in an induced coma for a month after suffering 15% internal burns when he tried to wrestle his burning e-bike out of his Cambridge flat last June. He also smashed his heel in three places jumping from his bedroom after the battery exploded.

When he was pushed back by the flames and toxic fumes, he called to his partner, Gemma, 31, and children, Lilly, eight, and Oliver, four, to jump from the same bedroom. “She said: ‘I can’t get out.’ That’s the last words I heard. I don’t know what happened,” Peden said.

He added: “Gemma knew I tried to help, but did the kids? Was their last thought ‘where’s Dad?’ I feel so much guilt and fear about what they went through in those last couple of minutes, it hits me every day.”

Peden learned of their fate only when he emerged from the coma in a burns unit in Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford. He says: “They told me Oliver was found in his bedroom. Gemma was found in our bedroom doorway and Lilly was under our beds with the two dogs.” The fire destroyed the family’s council flat and everything in it.

Cambridgeshire police told Peden that his family and the dogs all died from lithium gas poisoning. An inquest into their deaths will take place after police have concluded an investigation. It has so far focused on the previous owners of a second-hand battery that Peden bought online days before it exploded in his hallway.

Gemma, Oliver and Lilly were among 11 people killed in fires caused by e-bike batteries in the UK last year, believed to be the highest number in a single year. Coroners, fire officers and campaigners have expressed growing alarm about rising sales of unregulated and potentially lethal batteries.

The number of fires from e-bikes and e-scooters in London more than doubled in two years, from 78 in 2021 to 179 last year, according to figures from the London Fire Brigade. In the first five months of this year, there have already been 66 such fires in the capital.

Peden is backing a campaign by the charity Electrical Safety First (ESF) for a law change to ensure there is independent third-party certification in the sale of such batteries, as there is with other dangerous products such as fireworks.

Speaking from the Cambridge flat where he has been rehoused, Peden said he was an “unlikely poster boy” for the campaign as he was dealing with his own trauma. He said: “I used to dream the whole experience over and over again. The PTSD means that sudden bangs put me in a panic attack.”

But, he added: “Campaigning has given me a sense of purpose. My life has been ruined but I can help save someone else’s.”

At the time of the fire, Peden was working for M&S unloading early-morning delivery trucks. He shared the e-bike with a colleague who worked the evening shift. When the battery was stolen, he could not afford the £600 it cost for a new one.

After having struggled financially, the family was looking forward to Oliver starting school as Gemma could get a part-time job. He said: “Our lives were just beginning. We were looking forward to finally taking the kids on holiday. And it all got snuffed out in a night.”

Peden has not spoken to Gemma’s family since the funeral and says they are unlikely ever to forgive him. Asked what he would say to them, he said: “I’m sorry, that’s all I can say. Should I have just used a pushbike? It’s all my decisions that I have to live with.”

It was not Peden’s fault that the battery was unsafe or that it was so easy to buy online. Picking up his phone, he showed that within seconds he was being targeted with adverts on social media for similar second-hand batteries with no safety warnings or certification.

The Department for Business and Trade said a Whitehall taskforce had been set up to tackle the problem and research had been commissioned to understand the cause of fires in lithium batteries.

Peden is frustrated by the delays. “The longer they take to regulate, the more the bodies will pile up,” he said. He urged the next government to introduce e-bike safety laws as soon as it came into office. “If my story doesn’t show the desperate need for a change in the regulation, then I don’t know what will.”

In a campaign video for Electrical Safety First, he said: “We are trusting the government that they are safe, but they are not. They need to be regulated, they need to be checked. Change the rules to save someone’s life.”

Lesley Rudd, ESF’s chief executive, said: “Across the country people are dying because of these fires, and people like Scott are left living with the grief and devastation. The status quo is killing people and ruining lives.”

(Wikipedia)

Hundreds of North Sea oil and gas workers have said they would never travel in a helicopter involved in a series of fatal crashes, amid speculation about its potential reintroduction. Three-quarters of respondents to a survey by Unite the union said they would be unwilling to board Super Pumas, which were removed from the sector in 2016.

The poll, of 1,200 workers, was conducted after a number of safety concerns were recently raised about helicopters flying workers to and from offshore installations and platforms.

It follows a crash in February near Bergen, Norway, involving a different make of helicopter, the Sikorsky S-92, in which one person died. The S-92 is the primary helicopter used across the UK and Norway, but a recent shortage of spare parts has seen some of the aircraft grounded. Offshore Energies UK (OEUK) said it was aware of concerns expressed by offshore workers in Unite’s survey regarding the Super Puma aircraft.

However, it added there were no plans to reintroduce the aircraft any time soon.

Craig Wiggins, executive director of Step Change in Safety, said it would play its part in facilitating engagement with the workforce to ensure its concerns were heard and addressed.

A spokesperson for Sikorsky, which manufactures the S-92 helicopter, said the aircraft met the industry’s recognised standard for safety and reliability.

The company said it continued to support and see improvement in the supply chain and was working tirelessly to serve the S-92 operating community.

 
Tata Chemicals Europe Limited has been fined after a young father died following an incident while erecting a scaffold tower at a chemical plant in Northwich, Cheshire. Michael Densmore passed away due to complications from a wound sustained when his right foot slipped into a trough containing the liquid chemical calcium hydroxide, more commonly known as ‘milk of lime,’ causing chemical and thermal burns.
 

The 37-year-old father of four was one of several scaffolders employed by Altrad NSG to erect scaffolding at Tata’s Lostock Hall site. On 30th November 2016, during this work, Densmore stepped over a trough containing milk of lime, which had been heated to approximately 90 degrees Celsius. His right foot slipped on an unfastened lid covering the trough, resulting in chemical and thermal burns to his foot and ankle.

He was airlifted to Whiston Hospital burns unit, where he received specialist treatment and underwent surgery on 8th December before being discharged just over a week later. However, on 3rd January 2017, while at home, he suffered a haemorrhage to his right foot and was taken to hospital following a 999 call, but tragically died.

In a statement, his family said: “Our lives fell apart and have not been the same since that terrible day. Nobody should have to lose someone they love due to an accident that happened at work. A mother should never have to give CPR to her own son, and a partner should never have to tell their children that their dad will not be coming home.

“Michael has missed so many life events in the past seven years, including his nieces having their own babies, his eldest son giving him a grandson, and his youngest boys’ communions, to name just a few.

“What hurts us the most is the fact that he will never be able to complete all the plans he had for life, including marrying his Helen. The trauma we have all suffered as a family cannot truly be put into words. We were once a small, happy, close-knit family, who all lived life to the full, with Michael being the leader, and now we just about get through each day.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found there was no permit in place for hazardous work in a live chemical plant. Little proper thought had been given to the risks involved by those responsible for ensuring staff safety. As far as the scaffolding team was concerned, there was no clearly understood plan to address these risks.

Densmore had only received a brief induction when he started work on the site some months before. Crucially, he had not been warned that there would be chemical product flowing through the plant and that the lids to the trough had not been properly sealed. Tata employees had been seen working on or near the troughs, and there were no visible warning signs in place.

It also found that there had been previous prosecutions of Tata Chemicals Europe relating to health and safety failures at Lostock Hall and nearby Winnington Lane.

Tata Chemicals Europe Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £1.125 million and ordered to pay £60,603.54 in costs at Chester Crown Court on 5th June 2024.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Matt Lea said: “This tragic death could have been prevented had Michael Densmore and his colleagues been managed under a robust permit to work system for working in a live chemical plant containing corrosive chemicals which had been heated almost to boiling point.

“Michael should not have been put in this unsafe working situation and should have been warned about the dangers of stepping over the troughs and that they were still in operation.

“Companies should learn the lessons from this incident if they have staff or contractors working in a similar environment and be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

This prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Chloe Ward and supported by HSE paralegal officer Sarah Thomas.

We all know that ESG and sustainability have become strategic imperatives for businesses and organisations seeking to thrive in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. By embracing these principles, companies can build resilience, drive innovation, and create value for all stakeholders while contributing to a more sustainable and prosperous society. Our ESG & Sustainability Showcase is an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest products, technology and services that can support you in your professional capacity. 

This event will be on the 25th and 26th of September 2024 but all showcase slots will be available to view on demand afterwards as well. This event is free to attend you just need to register. There are lots of brilliant reasons to register and attend – 

  • Gain insights from experts on the latest trends, best practices, and innovations in ESG and sustainability.
  • Connect with professionals, thought leaders, and like-minded individuals in the field, fostering valuable relationships and collaborations.
  • Attend from anywhere in the world without the need for travel, making it easier to fit into your schedule.
  • Save on travel, accommodation, and other expenses associated with attending in-person events.
  • Hear from a wide range of speakers and panelists, providing a comprehensive understanding of ESG and sustainability issues from various angles.
  • Obtain access to presentations, white papers, and other resources that can be valuable for your personal or professional development.
  • Keep abreast of regulatory changes, market trends, and new technologies affecting ESG and sustainability.
  • Understand how incorporating ESG principles can enhance your organisation’s reputation, improve risk management, and attract investors.

Join the official LinkedIn networking group here.

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