Last updated: 05.01.12

Workplace accidents 'could be caused by health and safety blindspots'

A construction firm has been warned about its safety regulations after a man was crushed by a 1.5 tonne weight landing on his back.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company based in Rotherham for the incident, which happened on September 27th last year, after it was deemed that the accident could have easily been prevented had sufficient measures been put in place.

Companies in the same industry could benefit from using online learning systems to train new and current employees about the importance of health and safety in the workplace.

Yorkshire Spin Galvanising was investigated by officials at the HSE, who concluded the accident could have been fatal considering the weight of the part that fell on the worker, who suffered a broken shoulder, two cracked ribs and snapped vertebrae.

The employee was left trapped between the counterweight of a large zinc galvanising machine and a junction box after he went to investigate a fault on the equipment.

Rotherham Magistrates' Court heard that the worker in question checked the fault and then went to the rear of the gantry out of sight of the operator to check another repair that was made previously. The counterweight of the machine then descended, leaving him pinned between the two large and heavy weights.

HSE inspector Denise Fotheringham said: "In this case, the company's procedures fell well below those we would normally expect. The machine is very large and maintenance workers routinely entered to fault-find. There were also blind spots where an engineer would be out of sight of the operator."

She added that in this case there were no systems in place to isolate the machinery which meant that engineers had to rely on emergency stop buttons and interlocks in the case of a failure.

"Machines should always be fully isolated from the power supply and if an engineer has to go in, it needs to be locked off with a padlock that only the engineer can undo once the work is complete," Ms Fotheringham commented.

Further accidents in the workplace, which could have been prevented through the proper implementation of health and safety strategies learned through online training programs, have been reported by the HSE, signalling the worst era for accidents in the construction sector.

The governmental body recently urged employers to be more stringent with their rules and regulations relating to workplace safety.