The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Danger from overhead falling objects

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The danger of "working below" - in situations where items can fall from height and strike workers has again been highlighted by the prosection in the UK of Steel manufacturer Tata Steel and a specialist contractor.

A fine totalling £320,000 has been handed down for safety failings after a worker was killed by a falling metal bar in the steelworks at Redcar.

Kristian Norris from Middlesbrough was working for Vesuvius UK Limited at the time of the fatal incident on 12 April 2008.

He was hit on the head by a  metal bar that fell approximately 30 feet from overhead.

Teesside Crown Court heard today that an investigation by the UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) found that adequate precautions were not in place to control the risk of falling objects.

This was a failing on the part of both Vesuvius, and Tata Steel UK Limited, which then owned Teesside Cast Products where work was being undertaken.

Tragically, both company's were aware of the safety problems but both allowed the unsafe work to continue.

Vesuvius UK Limited and Tata Steel UK Limited both pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 10(1), of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Vesuvius was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,020. Tata Steel UK Limited was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £24,020.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Richard Bulmer, said:

"Kristian’s tragic death may have been prevented had Vesuvius UK Limited and Tata Steel UK Limited made simple and adequate provisions to protect employees working beneath work and lift platforms. The risks associated with work at height are well known, as are the necessary safeguards. Yet on this occasion the precautions taken to prevent people or objects from falling were wholly insufficient and sorely lacking."


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