13kg weight drops four metres directly onto young worker’s foot…
A worker at a power plant in North Yorkshire broke his foot after a 13kg weight dropped onto it from a height of almost four metres after becoming detached from an overhead crane on 22 March 2010.
The accident victim, a 19 year-old mechanical fitter from Scunthorpe, had been operating the crane with a work colleague and they were attempting to move the crane in another direction using a steel pole connected to a chain that controlled the steering of the crane. While they were doing this the counter-weight and chain broke off from the crane and fell directly in the direction of the two men. The 19 year-old worker lost his balance and inadvertently managed to move his colleague out of the way after falling into him but the weight impacted on his own right foot, fracturing it in spite of the fact he had been wearing reinforced safety boots.
The power company which employs a total of 750 workers as well as an on-site contractor responsible for ensuring the safety of the equipment and machinery, were both prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation revealed several safety failings.
In the course of their investigation, HSE engineers determined that the 13kg weight was not safely secured and was attached to the crane merely by a single nut or bolt. The crane itself was reported to have missed some recent service checks and had not been adequately checked for faults in almost a year. Other cranes in the plant were also found to be behind their servicing schedule and were found to have various defects after checks performed by independent assessors.
Speaking after the case, HSE official Andy Denison commented:
“It is not acceptable to turn a blind eye to the on-going maintenance and repair of work equipment. The injured worker is, in a sense, fortunate to have suffered only a broken foot. A 13kg weight falling from height could have resulted in a much more serious, or even fatal, injury.
“Drax Power and Konecranes didn’t ensure the crane was kept in good working order and this led to the failure of the connection between the counter-balance weight and the steering mechanism of the crane.
“Konecranes had fallen behind on servicing and failed to catch up. Their engineers also gave priority to breakdowns over maintenance. Drax continued to allow the cranes to be used even after they found out they had not been serviced. Companies cannot simply contract out their responsibilities and then let the contractor get on with it without checking the work is being done.”
Selby Magistrates’ Court heard the power company plead guilty to breaching Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 by failing to ensure the crane was in good working order. The contractor responsible for the cranes was also prosecuted and admitted a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. Each company was fined £13,300 and ordered to pay costs of £3,151.