Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

January 4, 2016

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Anglian Water fined £400k for safety failings

Cambridgeshire water supplier, Anglian Water Services Limited (AWSL), has been fined after three workers were injured in two separate incidents at its water recycling centres in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, and Saffron Walden, Essex.

In the first incident two employees, aged 27 and 53 were injured when a metal grid fell three metres into a wet well where they were carrying out maintenance repair work, at the Dunstable Water recycling Centre on 21 October 2013.

One employee was standing on metal grids above the well, having used a block and tackle to lower the refurbished pump into position. His co-worker was in the bottom of the well installing the refurbished pump.

The worker on the metal grid fell three metres into the well, after the metal grid gave way. He sustained two broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade, a punctured lung, severe bruising and a deep cut to his head. The other employee was also injured, after being struck by the falling grid. He sustained a severe laceration to his left buttock, bruising, stress and recurring nightmares.

Luton Crown Court heard a supervisor from AWSL had highlighted several concerns with the grid flooring to the wet well at the Dunstable site, following an inspection eight months earlier (26 February, 2013).

The necessary repairs, which could have prevented the accident, were not carried out.

While the incident was being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a second incident took place, at the company’s Water Recycling Centre in Essex.

Jeff Shepherd, 56, of Newport, Essex, fell three metres into a well, after stepping onto a well cover on 6 February, 2014.

The well began rapidly filling with dirty water, Mr Shepherd called for help, and was rescued by a contractor who had been working elsewhere on the site.

The well had no ladder and no other means of escape.

The court heard he sustained minor physical injuries, but is now being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the ongoing mental stress from the incident. He also suffers from recurring nightmares.

The Health and Safety Executive commenced a separate investigation into this incident.

Anglian Water Services Limited, of Lancaster Way, Huntingdon, was fined £400,000 with costs of £41,711 after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Outside court, Health and Safety Inspector Emma Page said: “Accidents involving falls from height remain one of the commonest causes of serious injury at work. As the regulator HSE is expected to take appropriate action when those who have control of work at height fail to take the necessary measures to reduce risk from falling.”

Anglian Water insisted it takes its health and safety responsibilities “extremely seriously” and that it “deeply regrets” the incidents.

“We place tremendous importance on the safety of our staff, regularly reminding our teams that nothing is so important that we cannot take the time to do it safely,” a spokesperson said. “This culture is supported at the highest level of the business, which is why we have taken these incidents so seriously.

“Although the employees concerned were fully qualified for the tasks they were performing, we pleaded guilty in the belief that all accidents are preventable, and our supervision in this case did not ensure our procedures and high standards were being adhered to at all times.

“We’ve co-operated fully with the HSE throughout its investigations, and taken significant steps to try to prevent something like this ever happening again. This action plan was personally overseen by our Director of Water Recycling. We spent £1.2 million last year specifically to improve the safety of those ‘working at height’, and we’ll do even more this year.”

Anglian Water Services Ltd has been at the centre of four previous prosecutions by HSE. The most recent of which were in 1997, 2004, and 2010. An improvement notice was served on AWSL following a fall from a height accident in 2007.

The Safety Conversation Podcast: Listen now!

The Safety Conversation with SHP (previously the Safety and Health Podcast) aims to bring you the latest news, insights and legislation updates in the form of interviews, discussions and panel debates from leading figures within the profession.

Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, subscribe and join the conversation today!

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments