Company Fined After Worker’s Head Crushed

Brick manufacturing company Hanson Building Products Ltd. has been fined £280,000 and ordered to pay costs of £29,204 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 following the death of a worker at its distribution plant in Coleshill in Warwickshire.

Peter Clarke, 57, was working at a 30-metre conveyor belt that carried concrete blocks from a kiln to a packaging area. He had only recently joined the company and his job was to remove sample blocks in order to carry out quality testing.

The blocks were arranged into stacks ready for packaging by manoeuvring the conveyor backwards and forwards. Mr Clarke was working next to a low bridge over the conveyor. When he leaned forward to remove some blocks for checking, another worker changed the direction of the conveyor, crushing Mr Clarke’s head between the blocks on the conveyor and the metal platform. The operator of the conveyor was unable to see Mr Clarke because his view was obscured.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the incident. It found that the company had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment for the operation. The only risk that had been identified was the possibility that workers might get their fingers trapped between the blocks and the stairway leading to the platform.

HSE inspector Peter Snelgrove said, “There were no safe systems of work for removing the blocks and the company failed to supervise Mr Clarke adequately. The area where he was working was well known as a danger zone by other workers, but he had been on site for less than two weeks and nobody had told him about the risks.”

Risk assessments must be carried out systematically and all foreseeable risks considered. HSE guidance on risk management can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/fivesteps.htm.

© , October 2010

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