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Tata Steel fined after worker suffers brain damage

17 Jul 23 Tata Steel UK has been fined £120,000 after a worker was hit in the face with a scaffold pole, resulting in permanent brain damage.

Gavin Rowlands was an employee at Monolithic Refractories Limited when the incident happened on 3rd April 2017.

He had been preparing to start a paddle mixer to mix concrete at Tata Steel UK’s site in Port Talbot. But the paddle mixer door would not open because concrete had set around it.

A colleague managed to open the door using a scaffold pole but the pole span around and hit Mr Rowlands in the face with such force that he was thrown backwards, hitting his head and losing consciousness.

This led to Mr Rowlands breaking his jaw and suffering permanent brain damage.

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A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Tata Steel UK had provided an unguarded mixer for Monolithic’s employees to use and that the mixer’s door regularly jammed. Tata Steel UK also failed to ensure that there was a safe system of work in place to release the mixer’s door.

The investigation also found that as the mixer was unguarded, workers were able to develop and adopt an unsafe system of work to release the door, which ultimately resulted in Mr Rowlands’ injuries. Tata Steel UK also failed to supervise workers that were using the mixer at its site.

Tata Steel UK Limited, of Grosvenor Place, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £14,138.06 in costs at Swansea Crown Court on 5th July 2023.  

HSE inspector Gethyn Jones said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing suitable control measures and safe working practices. Ensuring that safe systems of work are adopted and supplemented with adequate supervision to ensure they are followed is a fundamental requirement of the Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974.”

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