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November 17, 2009

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Dock worker killed during poorly-planned lifting operation

A shipyard worker was crushed to death after being struck by a moving load, which was being lifted by a crane.

John Datson, 51, was working as a painter at Falmouth Docks when the incident took place on 8 August 2006. He was part of a team that was attempting to paint a ship, which was undergoing repairs at the docks. In order to paint the vessel the workers needed to use a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP). To get it on to the deck the team attached some chains to the MEWP so that it could be lifted by a crane.

As the MEWP was being lifted it swung, and struck the base of the crane, and became stuck between the base of the crane and another vessel. Mr Datson and a colleague freed the MEWP manually, but when the crane began to move, the load swung back towards them and struck Mr Datson. He died instantly as a result of serious head injuries.

The owner of the docks, A&P Falmouth, was issued with an Improvement Notice on 23 August, which instructed it to review the system of work and provide greater supervision and training for lifting operations. HSE inspector Barry Trudgian told SHP: “The lifting operation was not planned, nor carried out in a safe manner. There was not a single person supervising the lift during the planning stages, which was a major contributing factor to an unsuitable method of work being implemented.”

A&P Falmouth appeared at Truro Crown Court on 12 November and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA, and reg.8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, for inadequately planning a lifting operation. It was fined £85,000 for the HSWA offence, and no separate penalty was given for the other breach. The company must also pay full costs of £21,500.

The firm has no previous relevant convictions, and told the court that it fully cooperated with the terms of the Improvement Notice. It has subsequently provided a member of its staff with external training, and he is now qualified to offer lifting training to other workers at the site.

Inspector Trudgian concluded: “The planning of this lift should have resulted in a much simpler method of work being used. This could have been achieved by moving the MEWP to an area where it would not have to pass through a narrow opening during lifting.”  

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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