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January 3, 2012

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Safety helmet saves worker from potentially fatal injury

A maintenance fitter at a steel plant in Cumbria could have been killed when part of a 300kg roller-shutter door fell on him – but his safety helmet took the brunt of the blow.

The protective headgear worn by Anthony Ryecroft, 51, was split by the impact of the warehouse door, which he and colleague Geoff Anderson, 59, had been sent to repair at the Workington, Cumbria plant of Tata Steel UK Ltd (formerly Corus) on 20 April 2009.

Workington magistrates heard that the door had been hit by a forklift truck, causing it to become stuck. The men, both employees of the company, were removing nuts from the door’s supporting pillar when it became loose and collapsed.

Both the workers suffered badly broken legs, and Mr Ryecroft also sustained cuts to his head and shoulder, after part of the falling structure struck him. He was off work for 15 months as a result of his injuries, while Mr Anderson never returned to work for the company and has since taken voluntary redundancy.

The HSE investigation into the incident found that Tata Steel UK Ltd had failed to make sure a suitable risk assessment was carried out for the work and did not have a robust system in place to ensure its maintenance staff were carrying out work safely.

Said HSE investigating inspector, Mike Griffiths: “The work could have been carried out safely by removing the guide for the slats on the roller-shutter door so that it could be wound up. However, it wasn’t planned properly in advance due to the company’s procedures.”

Sitting on 22 December, Workington magistrates fined the firm £13,000 and ordered it to pay £11,631 in costs, after it pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) HSWA 1974.

Speaking after the sentence, Craig Scott, managing director of Tata Steel’s projects business, said: “We investigated this accident fully and made a number of changes to the way we work to ensure that something like this can never happen again.€

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12 years ago

It’s astonishing how many times Corus has been prosecuted for safety failings. This latest fine won’t even touch the sides so won’t be much of a deterrent.

12 years ago

Wow, yet more problems for Corus (TaTA) What on earth is going on there?