Companies fined after injuries during cold stone collapse

  Posted May 29, 2019

Process and Communication failures

Simple process and communication failures led to fines being levied on two companies for a incident that led to serious injuries to two workers. The companies were fined for safety failings that led to two workers being seriously injured at a construction site when a cold store they were working on collapsed under them.

Fines totalling £135, 000

John Sisk and Son Limited, of Curo Park, Frogmore, St. Albans, Hertfordshire was found guilty of an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £64,000. HIL Installations Limited (formerly known as Hemsec Installations Limited) was found guilty of an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £71,000.

John Sisk and Son Limited (Sisk) of St Albans, Hertfordshire was appointed as principal contractor for fitting out a new distribution warehouse in Motherwell. Hemsec Installations Limited (HIL), of Birkenhead was subcontracted to design and construct the cold store structure.

Hamilton Sheriff Court heard how on 12 October 2010, Guy Davies, (27) and Nayan Patel, (20) two workers employed by Sitewatch (a subcontractor of Sisk), were seriously injured when the roof lids of the partly constructed cold store collapsed whilst they were working on them. Mr Davies suffered serious fractures to his thigh bones and his right kneecap. Mr Patel suffered two fractures to his right arm requiring a metal plate, and a number of fractures to his foot.

Avoidable accident

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Graeme McMinn said:

“The accident could have been prevented if Sisk had enforced their permit to work system and ensured that workers were not allowed access to the roof lid section until they received confirmation that the roof lid section had been installed correctly and was safe.

HIL should have ensured that their sub-contractor had installed the connections between the roof lid and cold store wall in line with the design specifications. They should also have checked that these connections were safe before allowing Sisk access to the roof lids.”

Having safety processes in place is not enough

In this case it is obvious that safety processes were in place but not adhered to. The ignoring of the documented procedures led to serious injuries for two men. This incident could have easily resulted in fatalities. While having strong documented safety processes in place is both needed and admirable. They are of little use if they are ignored or unenforced.

Safety concerns everyone

It is exceptionally important that everyone within your employ and every sub-contractor or supplier you deal with, understands that safety concerns them. Unless there is buy in from everyone connected to an organisation rules and regulations can be ignored. You need to be clear and everyone needs to understand that health and safety concerns them and that there will be disciplinary action against any one who ignores provisions.

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