Three fatalities: stored energy; falling objects; traffic management

Incident 1: Stored Energy Release – Worker Killed During Concrete Pumping Operations

A company was fined following the death of a worker at a dockside upgrade project at a port in the UK.

The company had been contracted to replace a dockside roadway at a port.  The company sub-contracted a specialist concrete pumping contractor to pump the concrete and a concrete laying contractor to lay the concrete.  A flexible delivery hose through which concrete was being pumped became momentarily blocked, then cleared under pressure, causing it to violently whip round.  An employee of the concrete laying sub-contractor was hit by the hose and killed, and another worker suffered cuts and bruising.

Investigation revealed that the company had failed to effectively plan and manage the safe pumping of concrete, in that an exclusion zone (IMCA’s italics) around the flexible delivery hose was not enforced.  The investigation also found the company did not adequately supervise or instruct, nor did it provide suitable information to sub-contractors, and it failed to monitor the pumping operations to ensure the ongoing safety of workers.

The HSE inspector noted:

“This tragic incident could easily have been prevented had the company involved acted to identify and manage the well-documented risks involved in concrete pumping by the implementation of suitable safe systems of work.”

Incident 2: Collapsing Stack of Stored Items: Worker Crushed to Death

A recycling company was sentenced after one of their employees was fatally crushed by falling plastic bales.  Waste plastic bales had been delivered and stacked as free-standing columns in a yard.  During the morning, a fork lift truck driver noticed that one of the columns consisting of bales, stacked three high, had partially collapsed obstructing his path.  He subsequently used the fork lift truck to straighten and stabilise the stack before continuing on his way.

Some hours later another worker was working in the immediate vicinity of the stack when it toppled, with the middle and top bales, weighing over 500 kg, falling and crushing him.  The scene of the collapse was not discovered until nearly an hour later when efforts to revive him failed.

Investigation revealed that the company had failed to store waste plastic bales securely in such a way as to prevent the risk of collapse. (IMCA emphasis).  The company had also failed to carry out a suitable assessment which would have identified risks to the safety of employees located within the danger zone of unstable stacks.

Incident 3: Traffic Management – Worker Killed by Reversing Vehicle

A company was fined after an employee was fatally injured when he was struck by a reversing heavy plant.  A wheeled front-loading shovel was being operated in a large shed.  Material was being loaded from it onto another vehicle and onto other equipment in the shed.  During the course of this operation, the vehicle struck a site operative who was fatally injured and died at the scene from his injuries.

Investigation found evidence of a lack of pedestrian and vehicle segregation in the shed, meaning that pedestrians and vehicles could not circulate in a safe manner.  The company had carried out a risk assessment prior to the incident that identified some control measures to reduce the risks from operating the loading shovel and a fork lift truck on site.  However, these control measures had not been fully implemented, nor were they sufficient to manage the risk of collision between vehicles and pedestrians.  There was also no risk assessment or traffic management plan considering the safe movement of vehicles across the site.

The inspector noted:

“The HSE investigation found an inadequate assessment of the risks of vehicle movements in the shed and a lack of segregation of vehicles and pedestrians.”