The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has successfully prosecuted two global companies after a four week trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.
The HSE told the court that an incident during the construction of an offshore wind farm left one employee dead and another with serious life changing injuries.
The incident occurred in May 2010, when a team of engineers were loading wind turbine blades onto a delivery vessel. During the loading process, one of the blades fell on top of two employees. The weight of the blade was approximately 2 tonnes.
One employee suffered significant injuries and he required a three week stay in hospital. His injuries included, a ruptured spleen, lacerations to his liver, a collapsed lung, multiple rib fractures on his left side, and significant crush injuries to his right arm and hand, with nerve damage to his thumb and fingers.
The other worker sustained fatal crush injuries.
The court heard that both global firms used substandard management systems which permitted parts to be loaded without being checked.
The first firm was found guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was today ordered to pay £275,000 in fines and £271,048 costs.
The court fined the second company £375,000 with costs of £105,355 after pleading guilty to the same breach and also to Section 2 (1).
After the case was heard, Julie Rayner from the HSE said :
“This incident could easily have been avoided had suitable systems and procedures been in place to ensure that all loads were properly connected whilst being lifted. “
“Had the right questions been asked when the lift was being planned and had the bolt and two brackets holding the blade and frame together been checked before they were lifted, the death and serious injury of two workers could have been prevented. “
“This case clearly highlights the need to ensure that relevant information is considered when lift plans are produced to ensure that all of the relevant risks are considered.”