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November 19, 2010

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Steel manufacturer handed massive fine for crane fatality

A Cardiff recycling company has been fined £200,000 after one of its employees was killed by a swinging crane hook.

John Penhalagan, 44, was struck by a 3.7-tonne crane hook on 30 May 2007, while he was working for Celsa Manufacturing (UK) at its new ‘melt’ shop, which the company uses to recondition steel.
Mr Penhalagan was responsible for checking the condition of molten-steel ladles. In order to carry out the checks, the ladles are removed from the production line by an overhead crane. Once one is in position for testing, a vehicle called a ladleman’s car, which contains tools that are used during the quality-control process, rolls across a track and stops next to the ladle to pick it up.

On the day of the incident, the crane operator moved one of the ladles into position for testing, before proceeding to move the crane hook back to the production line so he could collect the next item. The ladleman’s car was obstructing his view, however, and, as he moved the hook, it struck Mr Penhalagan, who suffered fatal head injuries.

HSE inspector Stephen Jones explained: “The operation had recently moved to a new melt shop but, while there was no mechanical defect with the crane, the company did not address the fact that the hooks were able to move at head height near to operators on the ground.

“The system of work did not enable crane operators at the site to clearly see employees working on the ground, putting them at serious risk of being struck by moving objects.”

Describing what the company should have done, he added: “Celsa should have put in place a thorough risk assessment and, most importantly, acted upon that assessment, given the generally hazardous nature of this type of operation. But, sadly, the plans in place were just not adequate and led to this man’s terrible death.”

Celsa Manufacturing (UK) appeared at Cardiff Crown Court on 17 November and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay the full prosecution costs of £36,294.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and has subsequently reviewed its method of work to ensure that workers are not in the area when the crane is moving. A company statement said: “Celsa has worked closely with the HSE and has sought to assist it at all times with its inquires into the tragic circumstances.

“The company has critically reviewed its procedures and is confident that such an incident will not occur in the future. Furthermore, Celsa has worked tirelessly to improve its safety performance across all of its business operations, with significant year-on-year improvements being achieved.

“The company again offers its deepest sympathy to Mr Penhalagan’s family.”

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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