Steel fabrication company receives second fine for health and safety breaches
A steel fabrication company has been fined after steel cages fell on a worker’s leg, causing multiple fractures.
In November 2017, an employee used a gantry crane to lift a steel cage from a stack at the companies main site in Essex. Each cage weighed an estimated 1188kg and were stacked between 2-4 cages high and unsecured.
When the employee used the crane to lift the top cage from the stack, two cages at the bottom rolled onto his left foot and leg, which led to significant fracture injuries. The worker had to undergo reconstructive surgery to repair the damage and undergo extensive physiotherapy.
The HSE found that the company did not implement a safe method for working with and storing the cages, and had not provided employees with sufficient information, instruction, training or supervision. In addition, the company failed to prepare an adequate risk assessment for the work task.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £130,000 with additional costs of £5,590.
The HSE had previously served them notices of improvement regarding lifting operations and its management of vehicles and pedestrians. In November 2018, the company was fined £100,000 for a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following a 2016 incident in which an employee was struck by unsecured steel rebar, causing life-changing leg injuries.
Concluding the case, HSE Inspector Eleanor Kinman commented: “This incident could easily have been prevented if the company had adopted safe control measures for storing and handling cages, and adequately supervised the task.”
Company fined after delivery vehicle struck overhead powerline
A stone merchant has been fined for safety breaches after one of their vehicles made contact with an overhead electric power line.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that on 25 July 2018, a truck delivering work materials to the company’s worksite was directed to tip its load close to the overhead power lines. As the tipping procedure was underway, the vehicle came in to contact with the live 11,000v powerlines. No one was injured during the incident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that a similar incident had taken place two years earlier. While no one had been injured in that incident, the electricity supplier had provided advice to help prevent further incidents. This first incident was not reported to HSE in line with RIDDOR regulations.
The only advice the company implemented was to place two small warning notices near the site. These signs were missed by the driver in the second incident.
In court, the company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3 of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and Regulation 7 of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. They were fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £621 in additional costs.
Following the case, HSE inspector Julian Franklin noted: “Had the company reported the first incident to HSE and acted on the guidance from the electricity supplier, effective precautions could have been taken to avoid a repeat incident. This incident could have led to the death of the driver. Standard industry-wide precautions should be followed to avoid the risk of contacting high-voltage overhead lines.”
Construction company fined after untrained worker dies during demolition work
A construction company has received a fine after a father-of-two was killed when a re-enforced concrete slab collapsed underneath him during a demolition project.
On 14 April 2014, a 33-year-old labourer was working with an excavator operator at a worksite in London as part of an operation to demolish a multi-storey building. The worker had been using an oxy-propane lance to burn through reinforcing steel bars to assist the excavator’s efforts to remove part of the re-enforced concrete slab. Another worker noticed that their work had made the structure unsafe and work was stopped. However, the supervisor subsequently ordered the removal of props that were holding up the remaining slab. When the slab collapsed the worker, the excavator and its operator fell with it.
The worker suffered fatal head injuries and died at the scene. The operator received injuries to their back.
The HSE’s investigation found that the worker had not received adequate training on the use of the lance. In addition, they had no training on the use of a safety harness which was not attached when the incident occurred. CCTV footage inspected following the incident recorded previous demolition work that had also been carried out in unsafe conditions.
The construction company, who was also the principal contractor for the project, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was fined £500,000 with £66,236 in additional costs.
On conclusion of the case, HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers stated “In the weeks before this tragic incident workers were regularly put at risk of falling. This is a case of a company wanting to have good systems to protect the workers, but not paying enough attention to what was actually happening at the site. This young man’s death could have been prevented. He should not have been allowed to operate an oxy propane lance. Employers have a duty to check workers have sufficient skills, knowledge, experience and training before they allow them to use equipment.”