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September 14, 2011

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Dock workers not given vital electrical safety information

Two workers suffered burns from a high-voltage electric shock as they carried out crane repairs at a dock in Liverpool.

The incident took place at the Seaforth Container Terminal on 12 March 2008. An insurance company was visiting the site to inspect eight dockside cranes, and when they carried out performance tests one of the cranes lost power. The dock contacted Carrylift Materials Handling Ltd, which had a contract to carry out maintenance on the cranes, to rectify the issue.

Lee McFadden, 33, an employee of Carrylift Materials Handling, was assigned to investigate the reasons for the power failure.  Having determined that he needed technical assistance to fix the fault, he and three electricians, who also worked for the company, climbed up the crane platform.. All four men thought that the voltage running through the crane’s junction box didn’t exceed 450 volts, as was the case on an adjacent crane, and they hadn’t been provided with any information or diagrams that said otherwise.

When Mr McFadden attached a low-voltage multimeter to test the electricity supply in the junction box there was a flash and a bang, which caused him to be blinded for approximately 15 seconds. He suffered serious burns to his hands and face, which has left him with permanent scarring. One of the electricians also suffered minor burns to his face.

The HSE’s investigation found that none of the men had received adequate training or been given sufficient information about the electricity supplies. It subsequently issued a Prohibition Notice to the maintenance company, which ordered it to stop work on the cranes until a safe method of work was created.€

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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