A lone-worker drowned at a water treatment works in Falmouth, a court has heard.
South West Water has now been fined £1.8 million following the death of 54-year-old Robert Geach.
Hadn’t been seen for hours
Mr Geach, a catchment operator, was working on a sand filtration unit of the Falmouth Waste Water Treatment Works on December 30, 2013, Truro Crown Court heard.
He was discovered by a colleague face down in water and was judged to have died at the scene having drowned.
The colleague arrived on the scene in response to a lone-worker system. It had been several hours since anyone else had seen Mr Geach, who had been spotted working on the top of the unit.
It was revealed by a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation that the company hadn’t identified the risk of drowning during the maintenance work Mr Geach and his colleagues undertook on a regular basis.
Safety measures needed improving
South West Water Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, was fined £1.8 million and ordered to pay costs of £41,607.71.
HSE Inspector Georgina Speake said: “This tragic case could have been prevented if the company had reduced the size of the hatch used to access the sand filters, and properly considered the hazards of the operation, including how close Mr Geach was to the water.
“Mr Geach was exposed to the risk of drowning which could have easily been controlled if the task had been properly planned and simple measures adopted earlier which South West Water failed to do so adequately.”
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: May 9, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown