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Tata Steel fined after neglecting its own safety recommendations

Editorial Staff

Tata Steels Billet Mill in Stocksbridge, Yorkshire, is like all steel mills a dangerous place. Tata Steel undertook a safety risk assessment relating to the lifting of a skip from a hole in the ground and found that there was a risk of injury which could be mitigated by installing a barrier around the hole. They didn't do it and someone fell in. It's cost a large fine.

26 February 2014, Mr Steven Ayres was working at the mill when he was required to be involved in the emptying of a skip which is at the bottom of what is called an open pit but is actually covered by two large steel plates. The plates must be removed by a crane which then lifts the skip out of the pit, swings it to a dump, empties it, then puts it back down the hole and covers the hole with the plates. Mr Ayres worked at ground level.

On the occasion in question, when the first plate was being returned to its position, the wind caught it and it began to swing. The crane operator brought it under control and replaced it. Mr Ayres moved out of the way. As the second plate was being moved, Mr Ayres stayed clear of it in case that, too, began to swing. In doing so, he stepped backwards into the hole, falling an estimated three to four metres sustaining external and internal injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive found that, sixteen months earlier, Tata Steel had undertaken a safety risk assessment and "identified the need to provide a barrier round the pit when the floor plates had been removed to empty the skip. A barrier was not provided round the pit until after the incident occurred." The company pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined GBP450,000 and ordered to pay costs amounting to GBP32,099.

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