A leading engineering company has been fined for safety failings after a worker fell from scaffolding and suffered serious injuries.
Swansea Magistrates’ Court heard that Motherwell Bridge Ltd, which designs and builds storage tanks, heat exchangers and gasholders, had been contracted to build a gasholder at the Tata Steelworks in Port Talbot.
One of its employees, Philip Roberts, 63, from Burry Port, South Wales, was working on the project as a welder when the incident happened on 9 November 2013.
Mr Roberts was tasked with welding seams of the tank, which involved working at height from staging erected around the tank. However a colleague, who was also welding seams, had removed planks from the staging – as was accepted practice – to facilitate his own welding.
As Mr Roberts walked around his colleague to get to the next seam, he fell through the staging platform and landed on his back on a concrete plinth at the bottom of the tank more than two metres below. Two planks also fell with him, hitting Mr Roberts on the side of his head and his leg.
Mr Roberts fractured two ribs, suffered a bruised lung and a strained torso and spent four days in hospital. He was on crutches for around nine weeks and still suffers from backache and flashbacks. He has been unable to work as a welder.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Motherwell Bridge Ltd did not have suitable plans in place for working at height and did not supervise the work properly. The company had been working to procedures that were nearly 20 years old and had not been updated despite significant changes to safety regulations and improved guidance relating to work at height.
Motherwell Bridge Ltd, of Drayton Hall, West Drayton, Middlesex, was fined £16,000 and ordered to pay costs of £ 4,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
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