A steel supply company has been fined following the death of an employee who was crushed by a two tonne steel beam at a warehouse in Cardiff. The worker suffered fatal injuries as he was trying to move a steel beam onto a conveyor at the warehouse in Trident Industrial Park, Cardiff.
The incident was investigated by the HSE which prosecuted CMC UK Ltd, at Cardiff Crown Court.
The court heard the man was working alone and was to use the computer controlled saw for the first time. He had to separate H-beam columns that were stacked ready to be put on the conveyor that fed the saw.
The stacked columns were 16 metres long and weighed more than two tonnes each. He lifted one end of a column with an overhead crane and put two wooden bearers in the middle while he got between the columns to pull the hoist chains through. While he was doing this, the wooden bearers gave way and the top column fell on him and he died at the scene.
HSE’s investigation found there were no instructions on how to split and lift the columns safely and although he was an experienced warehouseman, he had not been given training for this task.
There was no safe system of work for splitting or separating columns.
Clearly the business failed to protect this man; if they had provided a safe system of working and trained him to this then this tragic incident could have been avoided. The HSE investigation identified that the safest way would be to separate the beams at floor level or in a purpose built rack before placing them on the conveyor table.
CMC UK Ltd of Trident Industrial Park, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety at work legislation and was fined a total of £112,500 and ordered to pay £96,000 in costs.
This shows there are still too many businesses out there that fail to properly consider the risks in their business. Surely a high risk task such as this should have been fully risk assessed by persons that understood the risks! If they had then the task would not have been allowed to continue in such an unsafe way.
We would urge any business to make sure that tasks that are potentially high risk are fully risk assessed by competent persons. It has to be a better approach to identify what could go wrong and have a plan in place to put it right than wait for a tragic event such as this to occur.