Man died after falling into large opening on top of water tank…
A construction firm has been prosecuted after an employee at the firm died when he suffered a fall of 15 metres at a water storage tank in Macclesfield.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) decided to proceed with the prosecution against the company and one of the directors after an investigation into the incident which occurred on 14 August 2008 revealed safety failings.
Liverpool Crown Court was told that the 45-year-old accident victim along with a work colleague had been in the process of constructing manhole chambers which measured 7.5 metres in diameter above the tank, which had been built to deal with excess water caused by flooding.
The company had failed to carry out a risk assessment associated with constructing the manhole chambers nor had they received specific information, training or guidance about working at heights or working in the vicinity of the large tank. The court was also informed that a director at the company had visited the site the day before the accident and had witnessed the two men working over the large exposed openings in the tank yet he had failed to instruct them to implement any kind of safety protocols that might have prevented the accident.
The cause of the accident is uncertain as on the day of the tragedy the colleague of the victim had gone to retrieve some equipment and on returning he found the accident victim’s body had fallen through the manhole all the way down to the surface of the water tank, a total of about 15 metres.
The construction company and their director both pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to fulfill their duties to safeguard and protect their employees. The company received a nominal fine of £50 and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £24,974 while the director was fined £30,000 with no costs.
HSE Inspector Kevin Jones commented at the conclusion of the hearing:
“The victim sadly lost his life because his employer didn’t give any thought to his safety as he worked above a 15-metre deep tank.
“There were several ways the work could have been carried out safely, such as using a harness, installing a guardrail around the opening, or providing temporary covers. However, the company and Peter director chose none of these.
“This case shows how health and safety when working at height doesn’t just affect work being carried out at the top of buildings. The risks are just as great at lower levels if there’s the potential for someone to fall a distance likely to cause serious injury.”
Falls from height remain the primary cause of deaths in the construction industry according to the latest HSE figures.
Author: Julian Roberts
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