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Welsh steel firm fined following worker’s death

Date:
29 September 2015

 A steel supply company has been fined following the death of an employee who was crushed by a two tonne steel beam at a warehouse in Cardiff. 

Mark Walker, a 37-year-old father of one from Newport, suffered fatal injuries as he was trying to move a steel beam onto a conveyor at the warehouse in Trident Industrial Park, Cardiff on 24 June 2012. 

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted Mr Walker’s employer, CMC UK Ltd, at Cardiff Crown Court.

The court heard Mr Walker was working alone and was to use the computer controlled saw for the first time. He had to separate H-beam columns that were stacked ready to be put on the conveyor that fed the saw. 

The stacked columns were 16 metres long and weighed more than two tonnes each. He lifted one end of a column with an overhead crane and put two wooden bearers in the middle while he got between the columns to pull the hoist chains through. While he was doing this, the wooden bearers gave way and the top column fell on Mr Walker. He died at the scene. 

HSE’s investigation found there were no instructions on how to split and lift the columns safely and Mr Walker, an experienced warehouseman, had not been given training for this task. 

There was no safe system of work for splitting or separating columns. The safest way would be to separate them at floor level or in a purpose built rack before placing them on the conveyor table.

CMC UK Ltd of Trident Industrial Park, Glass Avenue, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety at work legislation and was fined a total of £112,500 and ordered to pay £96,000.in costs. 

HSE Inspector Dean Baker, speaking after the hearing, said: “Mark Walker tragically lost his life in this avoidable incident. 

“The company did not adequately plan the work that Mark was tasked with and expected a number of employees to separate large steel columns at waist height. 

“They should have identified the risk of these columns falling and ensured that the columns were separated at floor level or in a suitable rack. Had the lifting operation been properly planned and appropriately supervised and employees given adequate training, Mr Walker would still be alive.”

Notes to editors 

  1. 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. hse.gov.uk
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: legislation.gov.uk/
  3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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