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SIMPLE LIFTING OPERATION USED FLAWED SYSTEM

Tank being lifted on hotel project crushed workman

MRI London (Rollmark Engineering Limited T/A) has been fined for safety failings after a worker sustained life-threatening injuries during a “flawed lifting operation” at a London hotel construction project in November 2011.

The 25-year-old workman punctured both lungs, broke 17 ribs and suffered major internal trauma as a result of the incident. He was in intensive care for eight days and unable to work for more than five months.

Westminster Magistrates heard (10 April) the company was contracted to move large items of equipment into a lower ground plant room at the hotel. Five workmen were involved in moving a vessel weighing 1.3 tonnes using a chain blocks and hoists. One workman operated the hoists whilst the four others were standing alongside or on the edge of a raised ledge to provide further steadying support.

The vessel was manoeuvred so two feet were on the floor. As it was being raised upright the injured worker fell from the upper level just as the vessel detached from a load hook and fell pinning and crushing him against the edge of the ledge.

HSE investigators found the company risk assessment and method statement were deficient it that:

  • documents lacked detail and incorrect lifting equipment was specified; 
  • the assessment was not site specific and failed to acknowledge risks in moving equipment into the plant room.

More importantly, the lifting equipment being used included a defective chain block hoist that had a missing safety catch.

Lifting operations must be planned and managed with ‘utmost care’

Rollmark Engineering Limited, of Wharf Road, Denton Industrial Estate, Gravesend, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £14,860 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Eileen Gascoigne said:

“This serious incident was entirely preventable and clearly demonstrates the need to ensure that lifting operations are planned and managed with the utmost care, especially when they involve heavy items of kit or machinery.

Had the work been better assessed, and had the right equipment been provided, then the trauma the worker endured could have been avoided.

He and his colleagues were placed at unnecessary risk, and I hope today’s prosecution sends a clear message to anyone undertaking such operations.”

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