Stafford Crown Court fined a Leek based company £660,000 and ordered to pay a further £187,632 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into how a 50 year old contractor was badly scalded and later died of his injuries has revealed significant safety failings.
The court was told that the self-employed worker was repairing an industrial cooker. The cooker was used for animal rendering and waste food recycling.
The HSE reported that the contractor entered the oven to carry out his duties when steam from elsewhere in the system escaped causing significant injuries.
The court heard that the firm had failed to carry out a safe system of work, manage the work or risk assess the dangers of a contractor working inside the oven.
After the case was heard, Wayne Owen from the HSE said:
“The cookers in operation at the company form the core part of the business. Steam and hot vapours getting into the cookers from other connected pieces of equipment is foreseeable, and precautions should have been taken to ensure all avenues which had the potential to allow steam to be fed back into the cooker had been suitably isolated.”
“Work in confined spaces can be extremely dangerous, which [the company was] fully aware of having already had a fatality at the site. Companies must identify what measures should be taken to ensure the safety of their workforce. I would urge any company that carries out work in confined spaces to double check their procedures.”