Factory Safety Failings Fatality

A major engineering firm is sentenced (26th November) following the death of an electrician who was crushed by an overhead crane at a UK factory.

Investigation by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the electrician had been able to work on a platform in the path of an overhead crane without the power to the crane first being switched off. Preston Crown Court heard that the platform, which was around four metres above the ground, had been installed for a specific project in September 2000. End stops had previously been fitted to the rails used by the overhead crane that stopped the crane reaching the platform, but these had later been removed. The platform had remained at the factory but there was no barrier at the bottom of the access ladder to prevent workers climbing up it while the crane was in use.

On the day of the incident, the electrician had been trying to replace a cable, which hangs down from the crane to a handheld control, after it had developed an intermittent fault. The crane had been moved over the platform so he could reach the top of the cable where it connects to a junction box on the crane. As he climbed onto the platform, the crane moved and he was crushed between the guard rails around the top of the ladder and the crane itself.

The HSE investigation found the crane cleared the top of the guard rails around the ladder and platform by just 8.5cm. Despite this, the company had not identified the risk of workers being crushed by the crane if they used the platform so no action had been taken to stop this from happening.

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”

The HSE Press Release is here.

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