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Glossop metals firm in court over employee’s crane injuries

Date:
1 October 2013

A Glossop-based metal manufacturer has appeared in court after an employee was injured when he was struck by a container as it swung from an overhead crane.

Firth Rixson Metals Ltd, which produces specialised metals for the aerospace, medical, oil and nuclear industries, was prosecuted today (1 October) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its factory on Shepley Street on 23 June 2012.

Buxton Magistrates’ Court heard the worker, a 50-year-old local man who does want to be named, had been using an overhead travelling crane, which runs along rails on the factory roof, to lift an open-sided container carrying more than 50 long metal tubes.

As he lifted the 300kg container, known as a stillage, the tubes slid out, which caused it to swing in the opposite direction. It struck the worker and broke his right leg in two places.

The HSE investigation found two plate clamps had been used in diagonally opposite corners of the stillage, which meant it became unstable when it was lifted.

The court was told the company should have found another way of moving the metal tubes using appropriate work equipment, so that workers were not put at risk. The fact that the stillage was open-sided meant that there was a high risk of the tubes sliding out when it was lifted.

Firth Rixson Metals Ltd, of Johnson Lane, Ecclesfield, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £7,024 after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Edward Walker said:

"An employee at Firth Rixson suffered a serious injury to his leg, but it could easily have been a lot worse. The company failed to properly plan the lift, and regularly used a combination of work equipment that was not suitable.

"The use of the two plate clamps created an inherently unstable lift as the open-sided stillage was filled with dozens of metal tubes. It instantly became unstable when it was lifted and swung in the opposite direction when they slid out.

"I hope this case will act as a warning to companies of the potential dangers of not planning work properly in advance, so that similar injuries can be prevented in the future."

The latest figures show 20 people were killed while working in the manufacturing industry in Great Britain in 2012/13. Information on improving safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/manufacturing.

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk.
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."

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