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Fri June 25 2021

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Risk assessment failure blamed for lifting accident

25 Apr 13 A Portsmouth steelworker had his life changed forever when he was struck by a falling 1.4-tonne steel beam when a simple lifting operation went wrong.

Steel manufacturer Conder Allslade was prosecuted this week by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for safety failings that led to the incident at its factory in Hillsea on 10 June 2011.

The 64-year-old man, who does not wish to be named, was airlifted to Southampton hospital after being crushed by the toppling steel beam. He suffered numerous injuries including a fractured skull, two crushed discs in his back, a broken knee and ankle bones, as well as a blood clot on his lung.

Portsmouth magistrates were told (23 April) that the employee, a fabricator/welder, was working on a steel beam that was sitting unsecured on a metal trolley. He was manoeuvring an overhead crane when the hook of the crane struck the beam and sent it toppling from the trolley.

The beam struck the worker causing life-threatening injuries. He remained in hospital for a month and, two years later, still has to undergo surgery and treatment.

HSE served a prohibition notice on Conder Allslade after the incident to prevent any further work on steel beams while unsupported on the trolleys.

An investigation found the company had not carried out a proper risk assessment and so had failed to put in simple safety measures that would have prevented beams from being knocked and becoming dangerously unstable.

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Conder Allslade Ltd of Limberline Road, Portsmouth, was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay £5,074 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the sentencing, HSE inspector Craig Varian said: "The painful and debilitating consequences of these dreadful injuries will be with this man for the rest of his life.

"The term ‘risk assessment’ is often lambasted as a technicality or part of a tick-box exercise. However, the true meaning of the term and its importance are very starkly demonstrated in this case. Had Conder Allslade undertaken a risk assessment and then taken the action necessary to mitigate the risks, the incident could have been avoided.

"In this case, inexpensive and easy-to-implement solutions were available and the company did put measures in place after the incident. Sadly that was too late to prevent an individual needlessly suffering multiple injuries."

The photo below shows the steel beam that struck the worker with the steel trolley, to the right, that it was sitting upon before it fell.

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