An engineering firm has been fined hundreds of thousands of pounds for failing to prevent a “horrific accident” that resulted in a worker’s leg being amputated.
F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd pleaded guilty at Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court after welder Felix Trefas, 27, had his leg crushed by an overhead crane on June 10, 2015.
The cranes at the Canvey Island-based firm had been poorly maintained and consequently staff had to regularly work at height in the dark to reset them, the district judge heard.
‘Lucky’ to be alive
Mr Trefas was asked to climb six metres up a support column to reset the controls after a faulty crane broke down. After coming into contact with a separate overhead crane, his leg was crushed.
Mr Trefas was “lucky” to have survived the incident, the court was told.
The judge said the “horrific accident should never have happened” and that the company had failed to monitor the frequent need to reset the crane controls and address the issue.
The sanitary facilities were also kept in unhygienic conditions, the court was told, ignoring the previous enforcement actions imposed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sue Matthews said: “It is essential that lifting equipment is properly maintained and that safe systems of work are in place for work at height.
“Felix is incredibly lucky that he was not killed in this incident but he has suffered permanent life-changing injuries.”
She added that “employers have a duty to ensure that welfare facilities are kept clean”.
A ‘preventable’ accident
F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd of Romainville Way, Charfleets Industrial Estate, Canvey Island in Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £277,000.
The firm also pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was ordered to pay a single penalty of £5,000 and ordered to pay £11,904 costs, as well as a £120 victim surcharge.
“This preventable workplace accident has changed the life of a previously fit and hard-working young man irrevocably,” Ms Matthews added.
Source: Health and Safety Executive
Date Published: February 24, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown