Falling steelwork crushes worker

Grant Prior 10 years ago
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A demolition contractor has been sentenced for safety failings after a worker suffered life changing injuries when steelwork he was dismantling collapsed on top of him.

The 39-year-old from Barnsley sustained serious crush injuries including a fractured sternum and vertebrae in the incident at a former block works in Shawell, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, in March 2013.

His employer HCL Equipment Contracts Limited was prosecuted after an HSE investigation identified serious flaws with the dismantling and removal of steelwork which had supported a large aggregate mixer.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard the injured man and a colleague used ladders to access the top of the steelwork which was seven metres high.

Both men wore harnesses and lanyards, which were the incorrect type, and used propane gas cutting equipment to cut the steelwork into pieces, then dropping it through a gap in the centre of the frame into a designated dropping area.

After clearing various parts of the steelwork, the men began to cut through a standing conveyor, with the intention of weakening it so it would fall onto the platform so they could continue the dismantling.

The HSE investigation found that the injured man was finishing a cut made by a colleague when the conveyor began to descend.

He was unable to get out of the way of the falling frame, which weighed 380kg, and it struck him.

HSE found that no safe escape route was planned, resulting in the incident. The incident could have been prevented with better planning, management and training.

He suffered a fractured sternum, two broken vertebrae, eight fractured ribs, broken teeth and required 58 stitches in a head wound.

HCL Equipment Contracts Limited of Somercotes, Derbyshire, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £491 in costs after pleading guilty to a safety breach.

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 bee properly planned and risk assessed, and sufficient training given, it could have been avoided.”

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