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June 3, 2008

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Corus fined GBP 200,000 over fatal crane drop incident

A machine operator employed by steel giant Corus died after a 260kg block fell on to him from a height of seven metres as he worked underneath a crane.

Sheffield Crown Court heard on 29 April that a mobile overhead crane operated by remote control was being moved down tracks at the firm’s Rotherham factory, where steel strip is produced, on 2 July 2003. The crane block was hoisted up too far because the limit switch fitted to it (pictured) was defective and failed to operate.

“If the switch had been operating correctly, it would have killed the power to the hoist mechanism and stopped the hoist block being lifted any further,” David Bradley, the HSE inspector who investigated the case, told SHP. “But the motor kept lifting the block, driving it into the underside of the crane and stretching the hoist rope to such a point that it snapped, causing the block to fall to the ground. Unfortunately, operator Shane Eastwood was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Corus has since made changes to its safety systems and operating practices at the site to prevent a recurrence of the incident, to the satisfaction of the HSE. Ian Fretwell, director of Corus Engineering Steels, said: “I would like to express my sincere sympathy to Shane Eastwood’s family on behalf of everyone at Corus. Shane worked for us for 16 years. He was well liked and respected by his colleagues, and he has been sorely missed. Safety is our number-one priority throughout Corus”.

Corus was fined £170,000 and ordered to pay a contribution of £30,000 towards the HSE’S costs after pleading guilty to breaching s2(1) of HSWA 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of Mr Eastwood.

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