Safety failings behind steel worker losing leg in crane incident


Poor crane maintenance and safety failings were blamed for an incident that led to a worker losing his leg below the knee

A fine of £227,000 has been levied at a firm after a worker received serious injuries as a result of safety failings.

F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd was prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations after an employee suffered life-changing injuries.

The case, which occurred in June 2015, was brought before Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court. Evidence revealed how 27-year-old welder Felix Trefas was making large steel reinforcing cages in the factory. These were moved by overhead travelling cranes.

One of the cranes broke down and Trefas was asked by a colleague to climb more than 6m up the crane supports to reset the controls.

However, while resetting the controls, another overhead crane came into contact with him and his left leg was crushed. As a result a below the knee amputation was carried out.

Safety failings

The case revealed that the overhead cranes were poorly maintained, which meant workers often had to climb high up to reset them. During the night shift this meant workers had to climb the support column of the crane.

The District Judge in his summing up said this “horrific accident should never have happened” and that the company “should have had systems in place” to identify cranes were regularly being accessed in this unsafe manner.

F. Brazil Reinforcements Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

In addition, the firm pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Regulation 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. This related to the toilet and washing facilities for workers. These were in an extremely poor and dirty condition despite previous enforcement action by HSE.

Fines and costs ordered

The company was fined £277,000 in relation to the Section 3(1) charge, a single penalty of £5,000 in relation to the two breaches of Regulation 4, and ordered to pay £11,904 costs and £120 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Sue Matthews said: “It is essential that lifting equipment is properly maintained and that safe systems of work are in place for work at height.

“Employers have a duty to ensure that welfare facilities are kept clean.

“Felix is incredibly lucky that he was not killed in this incident but he has suffered permanent life-changing injuries.

“This preventable workplace accident has changed the life of a previously fit and hard-working young man irrevocably.”


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