An engineering firm with no procedures in place to identify unsafe work practices has been fined after a welder was injured working at height.

The court was told the worker was welding large steel cages and that they were moved by overhead travelling cranes.

When one of the cranes stopped working, the welder climbed several metres up its supports to reset the controls. While doing so his leg was crushed by another overhead crane.

Unsafe working

The judge heard the cranes were poorly maintained and that workers regularly worked at height in resetting them. Workers often climbed crane support columns during the night shift.

In summing up the judge said the “horrific” incident should never have happened. The company should have had systems in place to identify that cranes were often being accessed unsafely.

Worker toilet and washing facilities were also in an extremely poor and dirty condition despite previous enforcement action by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

Sentence

F Brazil Reinforcements Ltd broke the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act (HSWA) 1974 and Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

The company was fined £277,000 for breaking the HSWA and a single penalty of £5,000 for breach of the Workplace Regulations. It was ordered to pay £11,900 in costs.

The HSE say lifting equipment must be properly maintained and stress that safe systems of working must be in place for work at height. Employers also have a duty to make sure welfare facilities are kept clean.

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