Contractor Fined after Worker Crushed by Steelwork

Contractor Fined after Worker Crushed by Steelwork 25863

HCL Equipment Contracts has been fined in Court after serious safety failings were found to have contributed to an industrial accident.

Serious injuries

The case involved an unnamed 39-year-old man from Barnsley who was crushed under the weight of a collapsed steel framework.

Leicester Magistrates' Court heard that the employee, who was working with a colleague to cut steelwork into pieces, before dropping them into a frame, suffered "serious crush injuries" because of his employer's neglect.

Both of the men who worked on the cutting project wore harnesses and lanyards that were not suitable for the job they were doing, something that put them at risk of harm. After cleaning various parts of the structure they were dismantling, the men began to work on a standing conveyor.

The duo aimed to weaken the component so that it would fall onto the platform they were standing on to make their job easier, but as the 39-year-old was finishing a cut the conveyor dropped to the floor earlier than had been expected.

Crushed

The 380 kg object struck the man directly causing broken bone injuries including a fractured sternum, two broekn vertebrae, eight ribs fractured, broke a number of teeth and caused deep cuts in his skull that needed 58 stitches.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) bosses immediately sent inspectors to HCL Equipment Contracts after hearing about the accident in order to ascertain the facts of the case.

Investigations at the site revealed widespread poor practice, including a lack of proper escape routes, as well as serious failings in the processes involved in scrapping large metal frameworks.

For its part in the unnamed worker's accident, HCL Equipment Contracts was given a large fine totalling £10,000 and told to pay £491 in costs after executives pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

"It could have been avoided"

After the hearing at Leicester Magistrates' Court finished, HSE inspector Tony Mitchell said, "HCL Equipment Contracts Limited was responsible for the welfare of its workers and for ensuring the dismantling work was carried out in a safe manner.

"Our investigation found that if this work had been properly planned and risk assessed, and sufficient training given, it could have been avoided."

Tata Steel

HCL Equipment Contracts is not the only steelworks company to have been fined by the HSE in recent months.

In January, Tata Steel, an Indian manufacturing giant with a plant in south Wales, was fined £25,000 and told to pay £8,320 in costs after it pleaded guilty to three separate breaches of health and safety legislation.

The case involved an employee, who had worked at the plant for 34 years, whose hand became trapped in a pair of steel pinch rolls, leading to serious crush injuries and the amputation of half of his index finger and part of his middle finger.

HSE inspector Steve Lewis said, "This was a completely needless and entirely preventable incident that left an employee with a permanent impairment."

By Chris Stevenson