A maintenance contractor must pay a total of £155,000, while an electrical and refrigeration services company has been fined £10,000, following health and safety incidents
A maintenance contractor must pay a total of £155,000 after a man drowned after falling into a water filled sump at a North Wales power station.
Michael Benn, 37, from Glenrothes, Fife was one of a team of three working to remove sludge and debris from part of a cooling tower at Connah’s Quay Power Station on 27 August 2007.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found he was working in poorly lit conditions inside the cooling tower, and had entered an enclosed culvert to check the depth of water in the sump.
Colleagues working nearby heard Mr Benn’s distressed shouts, but when they got to the sump he had disappeared from view. His body was subsequently recovered from the bottom of the sump.
His employers, Epsco Ltd, of Arran Road, Perth, Scotland, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for failing to have a safe system of work in place.
At Mold Crown Court, the company pleaded guilty to a charge under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined a total £35,000 and ordered to pay costs of £120,000.
HSE Principal Inspector Colin Mew said:
“This incident was entirely foreseeable and yet it was still allowed to happen. Epsco Ltd would have known Mr Benn or one of his colleagues would need to approach the sump in the course of their work. The inherent risk of working in this manner should have been obvious to any diligent employer.
Meanwhile, Spark’s Mechanical Services Ltd, an Aberdeen electrical and refrigeration services company, has been fined £10,000 after a worker was seriously injured when he fell 2.6 metres from a scaffolding tower.
On 19 October 2010, Charles Howie was working on a scaffolding tower at Iceberg Ltd fish processing factory in Fraserburgh to remove two ceiling mounted refrigeration units from the coldstore.
The units were attached to the ceiling by eight bolts; four had been removed and Mr Howie continued to work on the unit before a forklift truck was in place to support it.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Investigation found that at least one of the four remaining bolts fractured while Mr Howie was working on it, causing it to fall and strike the scaffold tower, throwing Mr Howie to the ground. Mr Howie suffered a collapsed lung and five fractured ribs and was unable to return to normal work duties for five months.
The HSE investigation found that Spark’s Mechanical Services Ltd, Mr Howie’s employer, had not ensured that suitable equipment was in place to support the refrigeration unit while it was being removed. The court was also told that the top guard rails were missing from the working side of the scaffolding platform.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector John Radcliffe said:
“The company’s method of carrying out this type of work appeared to have evolved from custom and practice devised by employees rather than what was actually safe.”
For further information on risk assessments, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk