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July 10, 2012

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Double fall in poorly-planned maintenance job

An engineering firm continued to put employees at risk for 48 hours after two of its workers had fallen from a platform.

The incident took place at vehicle engineering firm Mira Ltd’s premises in Watling Street near Nuneaton on 5 July last year. The two men were among six workers helping to reinstall a large motorised fan in a ceiling.

The team had removed the fan’s motor from its housing by rolling it over a plate, which was placed in between the unit and a mezzanine floor. In order to get it to ground level they removed a section of the mesh flooring and lowered the motor.

They subsequently lifted a replacement motor back through the gap in the floor and then replaced the mesh. As they tried to roll the motor on to the plate, the same section of mesh floor became dislodged and they fell 2.2 metres to another mezzanine floor below.

One of the workers broke his collarbone and was unable to return to work for six weeks owing to his injuries. The other man suffered a bruised eye and a cut on the back of his head.

The HSE visited the site on 19 July and found there had been no edge protection to prevent workers falling when they leaned over to roll the motor across the plate. Work had been allowed to continue without guardrails being in place for 48 hours after the two employees were injured, the investigation revealed.

The HSE issued an Improvement Notice to the firm, which required it to review its controls for the risks to which maintenance workers were exposed.

HSE inspector Alison Cook told SHP the company had failed to ensure that the flooring was properly secured when the mesh section was put back in place. It also needed to install drop panels around the housing of the fan to prevent falls.

“The two employees were lucky not to have been more badly injured in the fall, especially after landing the way they did, with their head and upper body taking the brunt of the impact,” said inspector Cook.

“Mira Ltd should have planned the work properly, and had they done so the incident could have been avoided. Instead, they put six workers at unnecessary risk and fell far short of the legal standard required when planning and organising such complex maintenance work at height.”

Mira Ltd appeared at Nuneaton Magistrates’ Court on 9 July and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £9305.

In mitigation, the company said it had no previous convictions and it complied with the Improvement Notice by ensuring that risks created by its maintenance team are now properly controlled.

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12 years ago

“Work continued for 48 hours” AFTER the HSE had said they were issuing an improvement notice! Wow! This firm certainly doesn’t see health and safety as a burden does it? They just got on and finished what they were doing, which, I suspect must have taken, let me think – about 48 hours? Only then did they comply with the notice!
Cam-moron must be so proud of this business’s can-do attitude! The one saving grace is that they had to pay all the costs and not the taxpayer as usual!

12 years ago

Ahh, I see, reading it again, no, you aren’t wrong – I have mis read it! Thanks Bob.

12 years ago

I must clarify my reference to the current poitical regime. I’m not predjudiced against any particular political party – I hold them all in equal distain!

12 years ago

I think you may have confused the dates, the accident occured on the 5th July.

The IN was issued when HSE visited site on the 19th July (post RIDDOR or complaint) and instructed them to review their maintenance SSoW, which was evidently flawed?

They continued to work unsafely after the initial accident for 48 hrs.

Either way is bad form, as it shows that the method of work was not reviewed as being unsafe post accident.

That`s how I read it? I May be wrong?

12 years ago

This is a pretty staggering case. The original incident where 2 people were injured was serious enough, but allowing work to continue without making it safe was negligent beyond belief.

The most amazing thing though is who allowed this to happen and that the report just called them Mira Ltd: MIRA ltd is the Motor Industry Research Association .

MIRA is full of highly trained engineers and safety specialists!

12 years ago

Vehicle safety is not related in any way to workplace H&S. Testing an airbag or ABS system is nothing like planning work at height.
Just because they are engineers doen’t mean the guy looking after that project knew what he was doing.
Oh, and I am yet to investigate an injury and find that a root cause related in any way to the political party that was in power at the time, or had been in power when a SSOW was written, or when a policy was made. That would just be silly.