Thursday, 25 May 2023
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An engineering company has been fined GBP 160,000 (USD 263,127) over the death of an electrician crushed by an overhead crane at its factory in Lancashire, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated recently.

Liam O’Neill, 51, of Didsbury, Manchester had been trying to replace a control cable when the incident happened at Bamber Bridge near Preston in March 2011. Mr O’Neill died of his injuries a week later.

Assystem UK pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of its workers at Preston Crown Court.

Following an investigation, HSE found Mr O’Neill had been able to work on a platform in the path of the overhead crane without the power to the crane first being switched off.

The court heard that the platform, which was around 4m above the ground, originally had end stops to prevent it coming into contact with the platform. The stops had been removed for a different project and had never been replaced.

The platform had remained at the factory but there was no barrier at the bottom of the access ladder to prevent workers climbing up it while the crane was in use, HSE stated.

On the day of the incident, Mr O’Neill had been trying to replace a cable, which hangs down from the crane to a handheld control, after it had developed an intermittent fault.

The crane had been moved over the platform so Mr O’Neill could reach the top of the cable where it connects to a junction box on the crane. As he climbed onto the platform, the crane moved and he was crushed between the guard rails around the top of the ladder and the crane itself.

The HSE investigation found the crane cleared the top of the guard rails around the ladder and platform by just 8.5cm. Despite this, the company had not identified the risk of workers being crushed by the crane if they used the platform so no action had been taken to stop this from happening.

Stuart Kitchingman, HSE inspector, said: “Liam tragically lost his life because his employer didn’t think about the potential consequences of having a working platform in the path of an overhead crane.

“Assystem should never have allowed the end stops to be removed from the crane’s rails when it was still possible for workers to climb up the ladder onto the platform.

“It would have been simple to put a system in place to make sure power to the crane was switched off before anyone climbed onto the platform, or to put up a barrier to prevent access to the platform.”

Engineering firm fined following worker’s death
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