Poor crane maintenance resulted in highly dangerous workarounds
F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd has been fined £277,000 for health and safety breaches after a workman suffered life-changing injuries in June 2015.
Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court heard that Felix Trefas, a 27 year-old welder, was making large steel reinforcing cages in the factory which were subsequently moved by overhead travelling cranes.
When one cranes broke down a colleague asked Mr Trefas to climb more than an estimated 6m up the crane supports to re-set the crane controls.
Whilst resetting the faulty crane his left leg was crushed when he came into contact with another overhead crane. His leg was later amputated below the knee.
Horrific accident should never have happened
The District Judge heard the overhead cranes were poorly maintained so that workers regularly had to work at height to re-set them and during the night shift this often involved workers climbing the crane support column,
Summing up he said this “horrific accident should never have happened” and that the company “should have had systems in place” to identify that unsafe access to the cranes was regularly occurring.
Lifting equipment must be properly maintained
F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd of Charfleets Industrial Estate, Canvey Island pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
In addition, the firm pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 relating to the toilet and washing facilities for workers which were in an extremely poor and dirty condition despite previous enforcement action by HSE.
The company was fined £277,000 in relation to the Section 3(1) charge, a single penalty of £5,000 in relation to the two breaches of Regulation 4, and ordered to pay £11,904 costs and £120 victim surcharge.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sue Matthews commented:
“It is essential that lifting equipment is properly maintained and that safe systems of work are in place for work at height. Employers have a duty to ensure that welfare facilities are kept clean.
Felix is incredibly lucky that he was not killed in this incident but he has suffered permanent life-changing injuries. This preventable workplace accident has changed the life of a previously fit and hard-working young man irrevocably.”