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October 1, 2013

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Poorly-maintained water jet leads to two incidents in seven days


Two men suffered life-changing injuries within a week of each other, following incidents with a high-pressure water-jetting gun.
On 26 September, Dundee Sheriff Court heard that Hydro Pumps Ltd had been sub-contracted to cut away concrete top sections of the support columns on the Tay Road Bridge, Dundee, to allow engineers to replace worn out bearings.
On 26 July 2007, an employee of Hydro Pumps was working on the bridge. The 27-year-old was using a hand-held water jet gun, when he slipped and fell into the high-pressure concentrated stream of water, which penetrated into his abdomen. Due to his severe injuries he has been unable to return to work since.
The work was immediately suspended pending an internal investigation. However a week later, on 1 August, a second employee who had been brought in to replace the first, lost control of the same gun after it came apart in his hands and shot a jet of water into his knee.
He suffered severe leg injuries, and despite two operations his leg had to be amputated.
An investigation into the two incidents by the HSE and the Crown Office Health and Safety Division, found that Hydro Pumps had failed to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
The investigation revealed that the firm had modified the gun by shortening its lance to a length less than recommended by the manufacturers and industry guidance.
The company also failed to maintain safe equipment, and failed to supervise the use of appropriate protective equipment.
Following the hearing, HSE inspector Gerry McCulouch, said: “The first incident should have been a clear wake-up call that the water jetting was unsafe but little changed and it was only 10 minutes after Hydro Pumps Ltd had restarted the job that the second man was injured.”
The firm were fined £46,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the HASWA 1974 by failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees. No costs are awarded in Scotland.
Hydro Pumps Ltd had no previous convictions prior to this prosecution and has since instigated a number of preventative measures including appropriate PPE.

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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.

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10 years ago

Interesting – hydro dem