Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Sentence for Safety Failings
Posted by David Cant on January 15, 2013

A steel worker was injured and nearly crushed by a steel girder while working for Sherling Steel UK back in September 2011. The man who asked not to be named was knocked to the floor by the girder. He suffered from severe bruising and some tissue damage to his leg and foot. The incident could have been avoided and therefore the company was ordered to court to be prosecuted.

Dangerous Working Methods led to Accident

The court was told that the individual had two girders which he placed onto powered rollers in the workshop. The girders were prepared to be sandblasted and painted and left over the weekend. On the Monday morning the individual returned to work and turned the rollers on. He then proceeded to enter a section of the room through a screen to place cling film onto the powered rollers. The man had forgotten that there were girders on the rollers and was struck as they moved forward.

When the incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive they discovered many errors and safety failings. The firm had failed to complete a risk assessment for operating the machine and there were no guards in place to stop access to the rollers once the machine had been turned on.

Employees Created their Own System of Work

The film placed on the rollers inside the booth where the girders are painted often need changing. Workers change the film around three times per shift and yet they hadn’t been provided with training on how to perform the task safely, there wasn’t a safe system of work in place or any isolation procedures.  Due to the lack of systems in place the workers had created their own. At first they always replaced the film on the rollers when the rollers weren’t moving, then they started doing it while the rollers were on.

Sherling Steel UK was prosecuted at Barnsley Magistrates Court on January 10 2013. They pleaded guilty for breaching a Regulation of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations and a section of the Health and Safety at Work Act. They were fined £20,000 and must pay costs totally £7,356.

Lucky Escape for the Worker

The firm were very fortunate that the worker had not been killed by the steel girder. They had neglected their legal health and safety responsibilities and therefore put each worker at risk. The employees were left with no choice but to come up with their own system of performing the task which was unsafe.  The firm has since put in adequate guards and has improved their safety systems.

Health and safety consultants can be used to help you spot areas that need attention within your organisation. The HSE will prosecute if safety failings are discovered. Auditing is an excellent way of spotting failings in order to resolve issues. Find out more about the audit health and safety service 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: Workplace Health and Safety

Follow all of the latest Veritas Consulting news on our RSS feed

Twitter: Veritas_Tweets