Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

£500,000 Fine for Large Steel Company
Posted by David Cant on August 10, 2012

Tata have been fined £500,000 after they breached the Health and Safety Regulations which resulted in the death of one of their workers. The large global steel firm were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive after the 49 year old man, Kevin Downey, was working on a blast furnace.  He went to check a slag pool and while he was stood on a veranda the steam accumulated making it difficult for him to stay in the area. He tried to walk back the way he came when he fell into a channel which contained slag which was 1,500 degrees Celsius.

Steam Had Caused Visibility Issues Before

Tragically, despite being helped out of the channel Mr Downey died from his injuries later that day. The Health and Safety Executive discovered that the company reports had recorded some other incidents which very nearly resulted in the same accident from occurring. The steam was a continuous problem and Tata failed to address these near misses and create safe working methods to remove the risks.  Had the problem been addressed Mr Downey would still be alive today.

The HSE also found that the channels carrying the hot slag were often left uncovered, which was also an increased risk. No precautions were put in place which would have stopped anyone from falling in. Therefore Tata were prosecuted at Swansea Crown Court. There were ordered to pay £57, 487 on court costs on top of the £500,000 fine after they pleaded guilty after breaching two of the Sections in the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Steam was known to be a problem at the site, and it seriously affected the visibility for anyone working in the area. The HSE inspector Colin Mew attended the hearing and spoke to the press saying that if a system had been in place to control the steam and cover the runners and channels the experiences worker Mr Downey would be still here today.  This incident must serve as a stark reminder of the importance of putting the health and safety of workers a top priority.

Worker Was Experienced, Respected and Had Saved Lives

Mr Downey had been involved in an incident before in 2001 where he saved the lives of many workers after an explosion at a blast furnace.  His bravery and his commitment to his work has made this accident even more tragic.

There are no excuses, all employees must respond to any areas of concern which are raised within the company.  If there are any problems which have caused even the slightest accident they must be assessed to determine what the hazards are.  Once risk assessments have been completed it is possible to determine safe methods of work, new safety equipment and protection clothing and precautions which can be put into action in order to reduce those hazards and keep employees safe.

Tata had known the steam was causing a problem and they failed to act. If you have any concerns within your organisation health and safety consultants can help you to resolve your issues. Find out more about the health and safety services available by calling 0800 1488 677.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety, Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Regulations, Health and Safety Services, Workplace Health and Safety, Workplace Safety

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