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FIRM PROSECUTED AFTER WORKER CRUSHED BY FALLING STEEL

Fatal fall of steel girder triggered by ‘snagging’ of lifting clamp

Bespoke Precast Ltd of South Yorkshire firm has been ordered to pay more than £142,000 in fines and prosecution costs after a workman died when he was crushed by a one and a half tonne steel girder. John Mott aged 47 received fatal injuries in the incident at the Bespoke Precast plant in Barnsley on 30 March 2009.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Mr Mott was moving an overhead travelling crane from an area of the factory where it had been supporting the eight and a half metre long girder when a clamp attached to the crane hook snagged on the girder causing it to fall crushing Mr Mott against the floor.

HSE investigators found that it was common practice to use the overhead travelling crane to support steel girders during fabrication work and the crane was frequently needed elsewhere in the factory. It was common practice, therefore, for workers to move the crane to other areas.

Assessment needed to identify measures to prevent girder instability

Bespoke Precast Ltd was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £42,471 costs after pleading guilty breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The firm no longer operates from the Whaley Road site in Barnsley.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Alison Crank said:

“John Mott’s death was a preventable tragedy and his wife and family continue to struggle to come to terms with their loss.

The crane was frequently needed elsewhere in the factory to move steelwork around and we believe Mr Mott wanted to use it to move some of his own welding work. As he was moving the crane, a beam clamp used to attach girders to the crane, snagged and caused this horrific incident.

Working with steel of this size and weight in particular can be dangerous if precautions are not taken to maintain stability and workers are not kept out of danger zones. As this case shows, the risks increase significantly when lifting equipment is in use in the area.

A suitable risk assessment would have identified the measures that could have been taken to prevent the girder becoming unstable and falling off the support bench. The crane or any other lifting equipment could then have been moved safely.”

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