Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
June 6, 2011

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Two firms given big fines for power-station fatality

Energy firm RWE npower and construction giant AMEC Group Ltd must pay £510,000 in fines and costs after a maintenance worker fell to his death at a power station in South Wales.

Agency worker Christopher Booker was working at RWE npower’s Aberthaw Power Station in the Vale of Glamorgan, when the incident took place on 10 June 2007. AMEC Group had been contracted to place gates inside the pit of a water-cooling system to prevent sea water from entering the cavity while workers carried out renovations on the pit. The work was part of a multi-million pound project at the facility to reduce hazardous emissions from the plant. Mr Booker was part of a team of nine workers, which had been called in to carry out grinding work to provide an effective seal of the pit.

In order to install the gates, sections of the floor gratings at the top of the pit had been removed, but no edge protection was placed around the openings. As daylight faded, lights were directed towards those doing the grinding work, which left the floor gratings at the top of the pit in near darkness. Mr Booker climbed up a ladder to the top of the pit and, as he stepped on to the gratings, he fell  12m down one of the openings and suffered fatal chest injuries.

The HSE’s investigation found that no precautions had been taken to prevent workers from accessing the openings on the platform. HSE inspector, Caroline Bird, explained that the incident could have been avoided if scaffold barriers and edge protection had been erected around the opening.

Inspector Bird said: “This tragic case highlights the consequences of failing to do something as simple as adding protection to an opening in a walkway.

“Inadequate planning and a poor choice of safety control measures meant that a very obvious hazard remained.”
RWE npower plc appeared at Cardiff Crown Court on 3 June and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs.

AMEC Group Ltd appeared at the same hearing and pleaded guilty to reg. 11(1) of the MHSWR 1999 and was fined £200,000 plus £30,000 in costs.

The court heard that RWE npower was prosecuted for a previous incident at the same facility, which took place in February 2007. A contractor was injured while removing a valve system on the station’s general compressed air system because the air supply was not safely and securely isolated. The firm pleaded guilty to s3(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £8000.€

Safety & Health Podcast: Listen now

Exclusive interviews, the very latest news and reports from the health and safety frontline and in-depth examinations of the biggest issues facing the profession today. You'll find all that and more in the Safety & Health Podcast from SHP.

Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, subscribe and join the conversation today.

Safety & Health Podcast

Related Topics

Notify of
1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
11 years ago

One of Mr Cameron’s “small-business owners and entrepreneurs” they are “cutting back rules and regulations” for so they can make more profit. With the utter contempt people like this show for other peoples safety we don’t need less regulation but harsher punishment. Does our esteemed Prime Minister want this type of “small-business owners and entrepreneurs”? because this is what he will get with the “war” he intends to wage against the “excessive health and safety culture”.