North East firm fined after worker’s fatal fall

A north east port has been fined £400,000 following the death of an agency worker who fell eight metres onto the steel deck onto the steel deck of the ship’s hold at Hartlepool dock.

One of the 6 men who were working on loading 12m long steel pipes into the hold of a vessel on 9th September 2012.

The incident was investigated by the HSE, which prosecuted the firm for serious safety failings.

The court heard how the agency worker and his other colleagues were standing ontop of the stack of pipes. The stack increased in height as more of the steel pipes were loaded into the hold using a dockside crane to lift and lower them into position in the ship’s hold.

The worker fell from an exposed ledge of the stack of pipes which resulted in him landing onto the steel deck of the hold which was eight metres below and because of this incident he later died in hospital because of the injuries sustained.

The HSE investigation found that there were exposed edges at either end of the pipes and the company did not provide appropriate measures to prevent or minimise the risks from falls.

The firm were fined £400,000 and ordered to pay £107,684.40 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE inspector said: “This was a tragedy that could have very easily been prevented. The company should have properly assessed the risks and ensured appropriate measures were in place to reduce the risks of falling. The risk of a fall from an 8 metre stack of pipes was obvious. These precautions could have included the use of soft landing systems such as an air bag or cushion, which would have ensured no significant injury could result from a fall.”

Source: HSE