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Cemex fined £35k over hoist failure

14 Nov 13 Building materials giant Cemex has been fined £35,000 plus costs after an employee had both legs broken when he was struck by a falling 400kg metal track.

Martyn Powell, 41, from Milton Keynes was working at a Cemex asphalt plant in Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, when the incident happened on 27 June 2012.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and yesterday (13 November) prosecuted Cemex UK Materials Ltd for safety failings at Aylesbury Crown Court.

The court heard that Mr Powell was part of a team cleaning the area around the metal skip track at the asphalt plant. The track had been lifted into the air by a hoist to allow cleaning underneath.

The hoist jammed in the raised position and as Mr Powell attempted to free it using a manual ratchet to pull down on the hoist, the hook gave way and the track suddenly fell, hitting his legs. He was in hospital for a week and unable to work for six months.

HSE’s investigation found that the company had failed to adequately maintain the hoist and had not provided a safe system of work in the event of its failure.

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Cemex UK Materials Ltd, of Cemex House, Coldharbour Lane, Thorpe Egham, Surrey, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £10,043 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at an earlier hearing.

HSE inspector Karl Howes said after the hearing: “Martyn Powell suffered painful fractures to both legs, but his injuries could easily have been more serious or even fatal. Cemex UK Materials Ltd had not maintained the hoist properly and that led to it becoming jammed. All machinery must be maintained regularly to ensure it is safe to work with. It is not enough to rely on reactive maintenance and only fix things when they go wrong; companies should be looking for signs of wear and tear before any deterioration leads to an incident and possible injury.

“In addition there needs to be a system of work in place so that workers know how to deal safely with the tasks involved in their job.”

The fine was handed down just a day after Cemex UK was awarded the John Crabbe Memorial Trophy for excellence in the Mineral Products Association’s health & safety awards.

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