HSE News and Prosecutions – March 2015

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Steel producer sentenced for workers’ molten metal burns

A multinational steel producer was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £11,190 in costs after three employees in its Port Talbot refinery suffered serious burns from several tonnes of molten metal that had spilt on the floor. The event occurred when one of the employees was operating an electric overhead crane to transport a ladle carrying 300 tonnes of molten metal. The crane’s camera system was broken, which allowed a hook to be improperly attached to the ladle which subsequently dislodged the ladle. The HSE found that the refinery had ignored repeated reports of equipment requiring maintenance or repairs. Had the refinery kept its machinery in proper condition, this incident would not have occurred.

Lake District council prosecuted over bin lorry deaths

A Lake District council has been fined £120,000 after two women were killed by reversing rubbish trucks. The first woman had been walking down a single-track lane with her husband when she was struck by a reversing truck. The second accident occurred when a 58-year-old council employee was walking behind a rubbish truck to guide it. In both instances the drivers were convicted of causing death by careless driving. In its investigation, the HSE found that the council had not implemented enough safety measures to mitigate these types of hazards.

Insulation firm fined over pensioner’s carbon monoxide death

A Swansea energy firm was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay £24,968 in prosecution costs after improperly installing wall insulation which resulted in an 83-year-old woman dying from carbon monoxide poisoning just five hours after workers left her home. During the installation, employees had inadvertently blocked the flue of the woman’s boiler. Despite the employee contacting two managers at the firm about a possible risk to the tenants, the firm neglected to arrange for a gas engineer to inspect the boiler, the employee failed to switch off the boiler and leave a warning notice, and the firm failed to contact the National Grid, all of which are standard industry guidance. In its investigation, the HSE found that the firm did not provide adequate training for its employees.