£10k fine for firm following steelwork accident

Leicester Magistrates’ Court has imposed a £10,000 fine on a plant hire and dismantling company after one of its employees sustained life-changing
injuries at work in a steelwork accident.

HCL Equipment Contracts Limited of Cotes Park Industrial Estate, Somercotes, Derbyshire, was also ordered to pay £491 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The worker, 39, from Barnsley, suffered crush injuries such as a fractured sternum and vertebrae when steelwork he was dismantling fell on him at a former block works in Shawell, Lutterworth, on March 11 last year.

Worker hit by 380kg frame in steelwork accident

He and a colleague had used ladders to reach the top of the steelwork, which was seven metres high, and both men wore harnesses and lanyards which were the wrong type, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found.

They used propane gas cutting equipment to cut up the steelwork and then dropped them through a gap in the centre of the frame into a designated dropping area.

The men had already cleared several parts of the steelwork when they started cutting through a standing conveyor, with the aim of making it fall onto the platform so that they could continue the dismantling.

The injured worker was about to finish a cut made by his colleague when the conveyor began to collapse, and the frame – which weighed about 380kg – fell onto him.

He was taken to hospital where he was diagnosed with a fractured sternum, two broken vertebrae, eight fractured ribs, broken teeth, and he also required 58 stitches in a head wound.

Accident ‘could have been avoided’

Serious flaws with the dismantling and removal of steelwork were identified in the HSE probe, which also found that no safe escape route was planned, and that better planning, management and training could have prevented the incident.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE 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.”

Source: HSE

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