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March 28, 2023

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Firm fined after worker seriously injured

A Hereford company has been fined £190k after an employee was seriously injured after falling into a pit.

The man was working for Wyman-Gordon Limited, a company that produces forgings for the aerospace industry, when he fell into the bottom of a pit on 25 November 2018. He sustained deep cuts to his head that required eight stitches. He had been working at the company’s premises on Spa Road, Lincoln.

While changing an oil seal on a counterblow hammer, a lifting sling containing a 169kg load broke. The load fell and broke the board the worker was standing on, causing him to fall into the bottom of the pit.

The man has revealed how the incident left him feeling anxious after returning to work.

The worker said in his victim impact statement: “I was on sick leave for three weeks.

“After the accident I became more anxious while doing high risk work. I continue to have a problem with my back. I go to physiotherapy via the NHS when necessary. Currently, it has become difficult for me to get up in the morning because of my back.

“I also have frequent headaches. I have been to different hospitals in connection with that, but no cause has been determined.

“Also the accident had a partial impact on looking after my wife as I could not lean forward and bend down for about two weeks. My daughter had to assist both me and my wife during all that time.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Wyman-Gordon Limited failed to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees during the ram seal replacement. There was no safe system of work that properly addressed work at height and lifting operations. The company should not have lifted loads over employees and either prevented the need to work at height, or used alternative methods for doing so. HSE guidance on equipment and machinery can be found here.

Wyman-Gordon Limited, of Holmer Road, Hereford, Herefordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £190,000 and ordered to pay £35,000 in costs at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court on 16 March 2023.

HSE Inspector Stacey Gamwell said: “Employers have a responsibility to devise safe methods of working that properly address the risks, had one been in place prior to the incident, the injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented. There is guidance freely available on the HSE Website regarding the safe planning, organisation and undertaking of lifting operations. Guidance is also freely available in relation to working at height safely.”

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