Company fine after worker falls into unguarded pit

Tata Steel UK has been fined £450,000 after a worker fell into an unguarded pit, despite a risk assessment completed 16 months earlier that identified the need for barriers.

[SA] was injured working as a scaler on the scarfing line, in which metal is torched to remove imperfections, at the steelmaker’s billet mill in Stocksbridge, Sheffield. A billet is a cast or hot-rolled length of steel that can be further processed to make bars or rods. Water runoff and impurities from the scarfing process were collected in a skip stored below ground in a pit 3.7 m by 2.5 m by 2.5 m and covered by two metal plates that sat flush with the floor.

In February 2014, [SA] and an overhead crane operator removed the cover plates and lifted the skip out of the pit to empty its contents. After completing this job, the two workers went to replace the plates.  [SA] connected the crane hooks to lugs on either side of the first plate and the operator lowered it into position. As he did so, the plate swung slightly so, when the second was raised, Ayres moved out of the way. He stepped back and fell into the pit, sustaining a lacerated kidney and broken ribs.

Tata immediately installed guardrails around the pit’s perimeter to reduce the risk of a fall, a work at height control measure it had identified in its risk assessment in October 2012.

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Waste treatment and disposal company Prosecuted

A waste treatment and disposal company that failed to control the risks from gas cylinders at its site in Bedford has been fined £100,000 after an explosion left two workers with serious injuries.

An employee of B&W Waste Management Services sustained third-degree burns and was put in a medically-induced coma for ten days on a life support machine after the accident that occurred in July 2016. He has undergone several operations and relies on medication for nerve pain, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). On of his work colleagues was also burned.

Luton Magistrates’ Court was told that the two workers were using a gas-operated forklift truck to feed pressurised aerosol canisters into a plastic shredder when a spark from the forklift ignited a cloud of gas from the canisters.

B&W Waste Management pleaded guilty to breaching reg 6(1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2005. It was fined and ordered to pay £11,603 costs.

HSE inspector Andrew McGill said:

If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life-changing injuries suffered by one employee could have been prevented.

Director Prosecuted and Banned (S.37 Health and Safety at Work Act 1974)

London based building company director prosecuted and banned. The managing director of C J Langs (a London construction company) has been prosecuted under s 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act after dangerous conditions were discovered at a building site. Kewie Doherty’s company was also sentenced after inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found:

  • unsafe work-at-height practice
  • a lack of suitable equipment, and
  • untrained operatives working without supervision.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the HSE had visited the site in Sherborne Gardens, Ealing, following an accident in January 2017.

C J Langs pleaded guilty to breaching reg 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 over its failure to plan, manage and monitor the work.

The Company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £6,000 costs.

Doherty pleaded guilty to breaching s 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was disqualified from being a company director for three years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid community work. He must also pay costs of £1,673.