The energy giant was found to have failed to provide adequate fall protection at its wind turbine blade factory in Hull.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 11th November 2017, a 30-year-old man was working inside one of the turbine blades, cleaning off fibreglass dust and deposits with a vacuum cleaner. Inside the blade is a midway platform referred to as the ‘web’, from which he was working. As he approached the edge of the web, towards the end of the turbine blade, he fell a distance of 1.8 metres. His injuries included a broken collarbone, 10 cracked ribs, a broken wrist and a punctured lung. He was off work for two months.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Ltd had provided a ladder to access to the ‘web’ but had not provided any fall protection either side of the ladder.
The company has installed edge protection following the incident and, after risk assessing the task, it has a new cleaning method that eliminates work at height by rotating the blade 90 degrees.
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy Ltd of Faraday House, Sir William Siemens Square, Frimley, Camberley, Surrey pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £533,334 and ordered to pay £16,274 in costs.
HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said after the hearing: “Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place such as edge protection or barriers built to the correct standard.
“This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had installed adequate edge protection to prevent falls.”