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Tue April 20 2021

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Huge fines follow blade loading disaster

5 Oct 15 Two of the biggest names in engineering, Siemens and Fluor, have to pay more than £1m in fines and costs after a man was fatally injured during construction of an offshore wind farm.

The incident happened during constrcution of the Greater Gabbard wind farm
The incident happened during constrcution of the Greater Gabbard wind farm

The incident happened during the loading of wind turbine blades onto a sea barge for delivery to Greater Gabbard, off the Suffolk coast, on 21 May 2010.

During the loading of wind turbine components at Pakeston Quay, Harwich, a 2.11 tonne part of the blade transport arrangement fell off, crushing and fatally injuring one worker and seriously injuring another. 

Chelmsford Crown Court that heard both workers were employed by Siemens Windpower A/S (SWP) but were working for Fluor Ltd, the principal contractor.

The investigation carried out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found serious safety failings in the two firms’ management systems for the loading operation, which allowed vital parts of equipment to go unchecked before being lifted. 

Following a four-week trial in July, Fluor Ltd was found guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was last week ordered to pay £275,000 in fines and £271,048 costs.

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Siemens Windpower A/S (SWP) was charged with the same offence and also a Section 2 (1) breach of the same act, but pleaded guilty at an earlier stage. It was ordered to pay £375,000 in fines with costs of £105,355.

HSE Inspector Julie Rayner said after the hearing: “This incident could easily have been avoided had suitable systems and procedures been in place to ensure that all loads were properly connected whilst being lifted.

“Had the right questions been asked when the lift was being planned and had the bolt and two brackets holding the blade and frame together been checked before they were lifted, the death and serious injury of two workers could have been prevented.

“This case clearly highlights the need to ensure that relevant information is considered when lift plans are produced to ensure that all of the relevant risks are considered.”

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