Cambridgeshire water supplier, Anglian Water Services Limited (AWSL), has been fined after three workers were injured in two separate incidents at its water recycling centres in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, and Saffron Walden, Essex.
Two employees, aged 27 and 53, both from Bedfordshire, were carrying out maintenance repair work on two submerged pumps in the wet well at the Dunstable Water recycling Centre on 21 October, 2013.
One employee was standing on metal grids above the well, having used a block and tackle to lower the refurbished pump into position. His co-worker, was in the bottom of the well, installing the refurbished pump.
The worker on the metal grid fell three metres into the well, after the metal grid gave way. He sustained two broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade, a punctured lung, severe bruising and a deep cut to his head. The other employee was also injured, after being struck by the falling grid. He sustained a severe laceration to his left buttock, bruising, stress and recurring nightmares.
Luton Crown Court heard a supervisor from AWSL had highlighted several concerns with the grid flooring to the wet well at the Dunstable site, following an inspection eight months earlier (26 February, 2013).
The necessary repairs, which could have prevented the accident, were not carried out.
While the incident was being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a second incident took place, at the company’s Water Recycling Centre in Essex.
Jeff Shepherd, 56, of Newport, Essex, fell three metres into a well, after stepping onto a well cover on 6 February, 2014.
The well began rapidly filling with dirty water, Mr Shepherd called for help, and was rescued by a contractor who had been working elsewhere on the site.
The well had no ladder and no other means of escape.
The court heard he sustained minor physical injuries, but is now being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the ongoing mental stress from the incident. He also suffers from recurring nightmares.
The Health and Safety Executive commenced a separate investigation into this incident.
Anglian Water Services Ltd has been at the centre of four previous prosecutions by HSE. The most recent of which were in 1997, 2004, and 2010. An improvement notice was served on AWSL following a fall from a height accident in 2007.
Anglian Water Services Limited, of Lancaster Way, Huntingdon, was fined £400,000 with costs of £41,711 after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Outside court, Health and Safety Inspector Emma Page said: “Accidents involving falls from height remain one of the commonest causes of serious injury at work. As the regulator HSE is expected to take appropriate action when those who have control of work at height fail to take the necessary measures to reduce risk from falling.”
For information on falls from height visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/
Notes to Editors
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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
- More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: www.legislation.gov.uk/
- HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk