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FIRM FINED OVER TWO WATER JETTING INCIDENTS

Leg amputated after incident whilst jetting concrete bridge column   

Hydro Pumps Ltd has been prosecuted following incidents which left two workmen with life-changing disabling injuries during work on the Tay Road Bridge, Dundee in 2007.

The company was contracted to cut away concrete top sections of bridge support columns to allow engineers to replace worn out support bearings.

The 27 year-old employee was using a hand-held lance delivering a high-pressure water at a 5mm distance from the surface of the concrete. He slipped, fell forward and the water jet penetrated into his abdomen. Due to the severe injuries he has been unable to return to work.

Work was suspended pending an internal investigation. However, within ten minutes of work resuming a week later a second employee was seriously injured when the same gun came apart in his hands. He lost control of the gun and the water jet shot into his knee.

This second workman was taken to hospital with severe leg injuries but despite two operations to try and save his leg, it needed to be amputated.

Gun operating at almost twice the recommended force

Hydro Pumps Ltd, of Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment was not carried out after they modified the gun by shortening the lance to a length less than that recommended by the manufacturers and industry guidance. Employees were operating the gun at almost twice the force recommended by industry guidance.

In addition, the company failed to provide a safe system of work, failed to provide and maintain safe equipment, and failed to supervise the use of appropriate protective equipment.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Gerry McCulloch, said:

“These tragic and almost identical incidents could easily have been avoided had Hydro Pumps Ltd identified the risks associated with this kind of work and implemented appropriate risk-reduction measures.

The first incident should have been a clear wake-up call that the water jetting was unsafe but little changed and it was only ten minutes after Hydro Pumps Ltd had restarted the job that the second man was injured.

Two workers suffered severe and life-changing injuries, the effects of which are still felt today and will be for the foreseeable future.”

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