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March 23, 2021

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£533,334 fine for energy company after worker suffers multiple injuries in fall from height

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Ltd has been fined £533,334 after an agency worker fell 1.8 metres from a blade platform.

The 30-year-old was working inside one of the turbine blades at the company’s blade factory in Hull, Leeds Magistrates’ Court was told. Inside the blade is a midway platform referred to as the “web”. He was standing on the web, vacuuming the inside of the blade to clean off fibreglass dust and deposits. As he approached the edge of the web, towards the end of the turbine blade, he fell a distance of 1.8 meters. He sustained injuries including a broken collarbone, 10 broken ribs, a broken wrist and a punctured lung and he was off work for two months. The incident happened on 11 November 2017.

The HSE’s investigation found that Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Ltd had provided a ladder to access to the “web” but they had not provided any fall protection either side of the ladder. The company have provided edge protection following the incident and after risk assessing the task the company have identified a method whereby there is no need to work at height, they can simply rotate the blade 90 degrees.

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Ltd of Faraday House, Sir William Siemens Square, Frimley, Camberley, Surrey pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The company has been fined £533,334 and ordered to pay £16,274 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Denise Fotheringham commented: “Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place such as edge protection or barriers built to the correct standard.

“This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had installed adequate edge protection to prevent falls.”

Peter Bennett OBE, Chair of the Access Industry Forum (AIF) told SHP: “It is clear this unfortunate accident could have been avoided, had the company taken the necessary steps to ensure work at height was properly planned and managed. In fact, as with all work at height activities, the first question that should have been asked is ‘Can work at height be avoided?’

“Not all situations require working at height, and the Work at Height Regulations 2005 make clear that, in the first instance, work at height should be avoided where possible. Had the company properly considered the risks and measures to manage them, they could have identified there was no need to work at height, and the incident could have easily been prevented.”

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