£1.8m fine after lone worker drowns in “accident waiting to happen”
South West Water have been fined £1.8 million following the death of lone worker, Robert Geach, who drowned in a filtration tank. It was an “accident waiting to happen” according to the judge sitting at Truro Crown Court on Friday 21st April 2017.
Father-of two, Robert Geach, died in December 2013. He was working to unblock a filter at the Falmouth Water Treatment Works and fell though a hole into 6.5ft of water.
He had activated the company’s lone worker alarm system but it wasn’t until he failed to respond to a call, some 90 minutes later, that someone was sent to investigate and found him dead.
The judge pointed out that “no correct risk assessment for the procedure had been done”. He also stated that South West Water had been made aware of the dangers of falling into tanks “on a number of occasions”.
In 2009 a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector raised concerns about railing heights, trip hazards and working alone.
Since Robert Geach’s death South West Water have apparently made changes to lone working procedures.
Managing Director of South West Water, Dr Stephen Bird, said “South West Water has tried to ensure it learns all that is can from this incident”.