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Foundry firm fined after worker’s narrow escape

11 April 2013

A West Midlands’ iron foundry has been fined after an employee narrowly escaped falling into a stream of molten metal when he fell from a collapsing overhead platform.

The 42 year-old employee from Tipton, who doesn’t wish to be named, suffered bruising to his arm, shoulder and neck on 27 October 2011 when he fell to the front of the platform. Had he fallen to the back he would have tumbled into the1400 degree metal stream.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that employees, who took regular samples of the metal stream on both sides of the production line, used the platform as a step to cross the conveyor. The platform, however, was only intended to hold sampling equipment and was unsuitable for this purpose.

Dudley Magistrates’ Court was told today (11 April) that Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited hadn’t introduced acceptable safe working practices or monitored the custom and practice around the dangerous area.

The shelf collapsed after years of misuse. Other platforms surrounding the area were old and unstable and missing important safety features such as handrails.

The Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited, of Leys Road, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act 1974 and were fined £10,400 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector John Glynn said:

"The employee was extremely lucky to have only suffered bruising – as it was a matter of good fortune that he fell towards the front of the platform. He could so easily have fallen off the platform entirely, or worse, fallen backwards into the molten metal stream.

"The incident was entirely avoidable and occurred because the company failed to assess the risks and control the hazards associated with their work activities.

"The case demonstrates the importance of effective management. Had the company performed a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks surrounding the area, provided appropriate work equipment and effectively managed their employees’ systems of work, safety in this dangerous environment would have been significantly increased."

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Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce 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.
  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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