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Boiler manufacturer fined £85k

Rafako SA, the manufacturer and installer of industrial and power generation boilers, was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 in costs following the death of a worker on a construction site in Kent.

Rafako was fined after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 10 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday.

Rafako previously pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 at the magistrates' court and was fined for both breaches.

The guilty plea was entered alongside that of principal contractor Lentjes UK (formally known as Lurgi (UK)). Lentjes pleaded guilty under section 3(1) of the Act 1974 and was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000.

On the 19 July 2005 three industrial boilers were being installed at the new waste-to-energy facilities under construction in Maidstone, Kent. The manufacture and installation of boilers on the site had been sub-contracted to Rafako.

Each boiler was situated in a steel structure with platforms and walkways at various heights. A worker was installing floor gratings to one of the three boilers. Many of the gratings had not been secured in place and others had been displaced by pipe-fitters who were working on the same boiler. The worker fell 23 meters to his death when one of the displaced gratings gave way.

A health and safety manager from another sub-contractor visited the boilers earlier on the morning of the incident and expressed concern about the gratings not being properly secured, and about the number of people working on the boilers and the work practices in general.

He was in the process of taking his concerns up with Rafako's site management when the incident happened.

HSE Inspector Peter Collingwood said: 'This death could easily have been avoided. Had the work on site been properly planned so that the pipe fitters had not been allowed to displace gratings at the same time as they were being installed, and if the gratings had been fastened in place as the work proceeded, this incident would have been avoided.

“Another life has been lost because of the inability to plan and implement simple and basic precautions and employers need to understand that this is simply not acceptable.'