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POWER PLANT CONTRACTOR FAILED TO PROVIDE SAFE SYSTEM

Workman drowned after falling into water sump during maintenance task 

Maintenance contractor Epsco Ltd has been ordered to pay £155,000 in fines and prosecution costs following the death of a man who drowned after falling into a water sump at power station.

Michael Benn, 37, from 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.

HSE investigators 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 nearby heard his distress call but on reaching the sump he had disappeared from view. His body was subsequently recovered from the bottom of the sump.

Danger area was poorly lit, noisy, wet and slippery

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.

......... Note: no barrier at time of incident .........

The company pleaded guilty at Mold Crown Court to a charge under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. A fine of £35,000 was imposed plus an order to pay prosecution 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.

This company failed to put a safe system of work into place. The enclosed area where this work was taking place was poorly lit, noisy and conditions were wet and slippery.

The cost of providing barriers or other measures to prevent this incident and the time and effort involved would have been minimal.

The real tragedy here is the human cost that has resulted from the death of Michael Benn and the ease with which his death could have been prevented – I hope that other employers take heed of this message”

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