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Company fined £3m following death at recycling site

Date:
30 November 2017

A principal contractor has been fined a total of £3m following the death of a worker at a site in Wales.

Porvi Construcciones y Contratas was sentenced alongside Befesa Salt Slags following the incident on 14 July 2015, at the plant in Fenns Bank, just inside the Welsh border. Befesa was also sentenced £75,000 for failing to adequately supervise and monitor the demolitions activities. Befesa were also fined £150,000 following the separate investigation two workers who developed Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), incidents that were not reported to HSE.

Caernarfon Crown Court heard that 32-year-old Jose Luis Santos Canal an employee of Porvi, one of a team demolishing redundant processing machinery at Befesa. Using flame cutting equipment he cut through the steelwork supporting a large metal hopper. It collapsed knocking him from the structure where he was standing. He was killed in the fall.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the hopper was not supported before it was cut from the structure, there was no edge protection, for safe working at height and Mr Canal’s harness was not being used. Porvi failed to undertake this activity safely.

During a further site inspection HSE inspectors discovered in October 2015 that Befesa had failed to report a number of incidents at the site, and that two workers had been diagnosed with HAVS earlier that year.

Following further enquiries, it was found the company failed to monitor and assess the risk of HAVS to employees caused by their work.

Porvi Construcciones y Contratas of Zamora, Near Valladollid, northern Spain, was convicted in absentia of breaching Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined a total of £3m and full costs.

Befesa Salt Slags of Fenns Bank, Whitchurch pleaded guilty to breaching:

  • Section 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
  • Regulation 5(1) of the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence (RIDDOR) Regulations 1995.
  • Regulation 4(2) of Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence (RIDDOR) Regulations 2013.
  • Two breaches of Regulation 8(d) of the Reporting of injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence (RIDDOR) Regulations 2013.

The company has been fined a total of £225,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £67,092.44.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Clare Owen said: “It is clear there was a wholesale failure to manage health and safety during at this site.

“Porvi put cost-cutting ahead of health and safety, the bottom line ahead of Mr Canal’s safety and well-being. His death could have been avoided had sufficient planning and monitoring taken place.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We seek to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. 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
  4. For further information go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm

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