A Workington construction company has been fined £15,000 after a steel cable shot through a worker's leg, leaving him with a hole through his shin.
A.C.P (Concrete), which produces concrete panels, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident in its factory on the Derwent Howe Industrial Estate. It left worker Jamie Graham, 25, fr,om Cockermouth in a hip to toe full leg cast for six weeks and on crutches for another four months.
Workington Magistrates' court heard that the steel cables were threaded through concrete moulds and stretched to 2,000 lbs tension. On 19 March 2009, a grip holding one of the tensioned cables failed, releasing a 200-feet long cable.
When Graham went to re-thread that cable, another grip failed, releasing a second 200-feet-long steel cable, the end of which passed straight through his lower right leg, leaving him impaled on the 9mm steel cable.
The fire and rescue service had to cut the cable to release him and he was taken to hospital with the end of the cable still embedded in his shin.
An HSE investigation found the company did not have any system in place for inspecting and maintaining the grips, and that an average of eight grips failed each week at the premises.
The HSE also concluded that A.C.P did not have a safe system of work in place for re-threading the steel cables and fixing new grips when they failed on tensioned cables. This meant that workers could be crouching directly in line with the ends of tensioned cables whilst making repairs.
HSE inspector Mike Griffiths, said: "This terrifying incident should have been prevented. The lack of any inspection or maintenance of the grips meant that problems with them were only detected when a grip failed and that could sometimes result in a cable being released at high speed.
"The fact that the grips had to fail before they were replaced meant that there were significantly more failures under tension and the chances of a serious injury were increased.
"The company should have ensured that the task of re-threading the cables was properly assessed and that the significant risks to their employees were properly controlled."
The court heard that Graham, who is a keen weight trainer, was significantly immobilised for six weeks after the incident and still suffers pain and weakness in his right leg.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was also ordered to pay £6,638 costs.