Accidents at Work
A construction company have been issued a £20,000 by the Swindon Magistrates Court after an employee sustained injuries following an electric shock whilst at work.
The incident occurred in March 2013 when Lee Burge, aged thirty-eight from Bristol, was working at the Trowbridge Rugby Club as a crane operator. At the site, he began to lift a steel object when the hook of the crane collided with an 11kV power line that was overhead.
As Mr Burge was seated in the crane, he suffered a severe electric shock that left him unconscious. He was resuscitated immediately brought to hospital, where he received medical treatment for his injuries. However, Mr Burge still suffers from long-term memory loss as a result of the accident.
An investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the circumstances of the accident, during which it was uncovered that Ashford Homes (South Western) Ltd, Mr Burge’s employers, were forewarned concerning the presence of the power cables. They had also been advised on how to remove power supplies that ran across the site by an electricity company.
Yet the employers neglected to act upon the advice, and they took no action to try and prevent any equipment from working around the area which contained the power lines. The power supply to the lines was not diverted whilst the employees were working on the site.
The company were prosecuted by the HSE for failure to cohere to Regulation 34(c) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The case was heard at the Swindon Magistrates Court, where Ashford Homes Ltd plead guilty to the charges.
The company were consequently fines £20,000 and had to pay an additional £5,159 in costs. When the fine was announced, HSE Inspector Ian Whittles stated that “Work near overhead power lines should be carefully planned and managed so that risks from contact or close proximity to the lines are adequately controlled. Ashford Homes failed to do this. Luckily Mr Burge was resuscitated, but he now suffers from life changing complications due the electric shock injury at work he received”.
A company that manufactures coal briquettes has been fines at the Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court after two of its employees were seriously burned when a fine broke out at the manufacturing plant.
The fire broke out on the 16th December 2012 in a building that held a rotary drier at Maxibrite’s manufacturing plant in Llantrisant. When he was alerted of the fire, Simon Gilbody – a manager at the plant – attempted to use a hose to dampen the flames in the tower.
However, these attempts were in vain and Mr Gilbody, with the help of another worker, Carl Lewis, tried to open an inspection hatch at the base of the tower to release any blockages. Yet when Mr Lewis opened the hatch, hot coals and cinders fell from the opening, causing Mr Gilbody to sustain burns to his upper body and face.
When Mr Lewis attempted to close the inspection hatch’s door, he also sustained serious burns. Medical attention was called to the scene, and though Mr Gilbody was allowed home after receiving treatment from the attending paramedics, Mr Lewis was admitted to hospital and had to undergo a skin graft in an attempt to help the damage to his skin.
The Health and Safety Executives (HSE) launched an investigation into the incident, and it was uncovered that Maxibrite failed to conduct adequate risk assessments concerning possible fires in the tower. Additionally, it failed to train staff in fire safety procedure in the event of a fire.
The company was prosecuted for breaches of the Management of health and Safety at Work Regulations and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were also told to implement staff training in fire-fighting equipment and fire safety.
The case was heard at the Pontypridd Magistrates’ Court, where Maxibrite representatives plead guilty to the charges. The court fined the company £20,000 for negligence and also ordered them to pay prosecution costs of £5,115.
HSE Inspector Steve Lewis stated, after the fine was announced, that the employees that were injured in the incident were lucky not to have sustained more serious injuries, and noted that every employer should ensure that they have adequately instructed their staff in fire safety protocol.
A compensation settlement of £500,000 has been awarded to a former welder after he sustained injuries to his face at work.
The man, aged forty-nine and anonymous, was working for the Hulme Group at a commercial vehicle repairs facility in Trafford Park, Manchester, when the accident occurred in 2008. The welder was endeavouring to weld two pieces of steel together when the hydraulic jack that was being used to support the steel sheets he was working on moved and hit his face.
The injuries that the man sustained were severe; the sheet smashed his left eye socket and inflicted nerve damage upon his left cheek. A total of five surgeries were carried out on the man in an attempt to reconstruct his eye socket, and he is continuing to receive deep brain stimulation therapy for the pain in his cheek.
The former welder is unable to leave his home without wearing a prosthetic mask that will shield his damaged face from the weather and pollutants.
The man sought legal counsel after speaking with a representative of his union, and subsequently made a claim for the injuries he sustained at work. His employers have previously been issued with improvement notices from the Health and Safety Executives for unrelated offences, and they admitted liability for the man’s accident. Negotiations for the settlement then commenced between the parties.
The settlement was eventually resolved for £500,000. When this was announced, the man who had been injured stated that “They never established exactly what was wrong with the jack but the fact is that it wasn’t safe work equipment. I was a healthy and active man before my accident, and in a split second my freedom and independence were taken away from me.”