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December 4, 2023

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£600k fine for premium yacht maker after worker suffers life changing injuries

A premium yacht maker has been charged with a £600,000 fine after one of its workers suffered life changing injuries at its shipyard in Plymouth.

Mark Gillen. Credit: Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

Mark Gillen sustained a catalogue of injuries, including 12 broken ribs and a severed right arm, when a staging platform weighing approximately one tonne, toppled over and fell on top of him.

The 54-year-old, who had worked for the company for 26 years, also suffered bleeds on the brain and remained in hospital for several months.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the platform fell due to one of the front wheels hitting a divot in a concrete surface. Mark had been part of a team working on a 72-foot vessel at the company’s Southyard site when the incident happened on 9 November 2021.

Airlifted to hospital 

On the day, finished mouldings were being moved from the firm’s Southyard site to their one on Newport Street for fit-out. Staging platforms were used extensively by the company to form a safe and stable work at height platform that surrounds a moulding and later a boat whilst it is the manufacturing stage.

As Mark and two of his colleagues began to push the platform, one of the front wheels hit a divot in the concrete surface, causing it to topple and fall on top of him. Due to the seriousness of his injuries, Mark was then airlifted to hospital.

The HSE found that there was a failure to assess the risks associated with moving staging platforms manually through the external yard. Had this been done, it would have identified the uneven ground as a hazard that required controlling. The risks could have been further eliminated by prohibiting the manual moving of the platforms and requiring any external movement to be carried out by forklift trucks.

Mark had been part of a team working on a 72-foot vessel when the incident happened. Credit: HSE

“Lucky to be alive”

Princess Yacht Limited of Newport Street Plymouth pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 2 (1). The company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,146.

HSE Inspector Paul Mannell said: “Mark Gillen is lucky to be alive. The company should have had measures in place to ensure that mobile staging was never pushed through the yard by hand.

“As the measures taken post-accident clearly show, it would have been reasonably practicable to have had them in place when Mr Gillen was injured. They were implemented immediately after the accident at no cost to the company.

“The failure to have in place a safe system of work resulted in a life changing injury to a loyal employee who had worked for the company for 26 years.”

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