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October 12, 2021

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£25k fine for engineering firm after employee suffered serious injuries

An engineering company was fined after one of its employees, a blacksmith, sustained life-changing injuries whilst welding an industrial steel fabrication.

Kenneth McIntosh was undertaking work to fabricate and weld dolphin jackets, devices which are secured to the seabed and used for mooring boats, on 23 June 2017, Dundee Sheriff Court was told. A dolphin jacket, which weighed approximately 7.7 tonnes, moved in an uncontrollable manner trapping Mr McIntosh and crushing his feet. Half of Mr McIntosh’s left foot was severed in the incident and a further portion had to be surgically amputated. His right foot could not be saved and was later surgically removed below his right knee to enable a prosthetic limb to be fitted.

The HSE’s investigation found that no written risk assessments or work method statements had been produced. A method was devised by the workers to move the dolphins into position and secure them using a combination of forklift trucks (FLT) and temporary steel supports, which failed. While the company may have had significant confidence in their employees’ abilities, it was the company’s responsibility to ensure work was carried out in safe manner at all times.

D Copeland Engineering Limited of Nobel Road, West Gourdie Industrial Estate, Dundee pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £25,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Michelle Gillies said: “Those in control of work procedures have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers to ensure the safe system of working.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”

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