Firm fined after worker breaks leg

A metal manufacturer has been handed a fine after a worker suffered an injury at work when he was hit by a container as it swung from an overhead crane.

The 50-year-old man, who does not want to be named, broke his right leg in two places following the incident at the Firth Rixson Metals factory on Shepley Street, Glossop, Derbyshire, on June 23 last year.

Work accident

Buxton Magistrates’ Court was told that the worker was using an overhead travelling crane which runs along rails on the factory roof. It was lifting an open-sided container carrying more than 50 long metal tubes.

The tubes slid while being moved and this caused the 300kg container – known as a stillage – to swing in the opposite direction, causing the accident which resulted in the man’s injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the stillage became unstable as a result of two plate clamps being used in diagonally opposite corners of the container.

Workers at risk

According to the HSE, Firth Rixson Metals should have worked out another way of moving the metal tubes using appropriate equipment which did not put workers at risk. The open-sided nature of the stillage meant there was a high risk of tubes sliding out, the court was told.

Firth Rixson Metals, which produces specialised metals for the aerospace, medical, oil and nuclear industries, pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £7,024.

Warning to companies

HSE inspector Edward Walker said that the company failed to properly plan the lift and that the accident could have been much worse.

He added: “The use of the two plate clamps created an inherently unstable lift as the open-sided stillage was filled with dozens of metal tubes. It instantly became unstable when it was lifted and swung in the opposite direction when they slid out.

“I hope this case will act as a warning to companies of the potential dangers of not planning work properly in advance, so that similar injuries can be prevented in the future.”

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