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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer

Health and Safety Horrors : Universities, Warehouses, Wells, Wind turbines


Bomblet explosion

In February 2011 three employees at the Explosives Research Section at Cranfield University were deactivating cluster bomblets. One of the bomblets exploded and caused serious injuries to a worker. The injuries included severe abdominal injuries and lacerations. No suitable risk assessment had been carried out for this type of activity and therefore the system of working was unsafe. The university’s management team were unware of the process being carried out by workers to deal with this type of ammunition.


Racking collapse death

In March 2009 Desanka Todovoric, an employee of Merley Paper Converters Ltd, was working at the company’s warehouse in Corby. She was waiting to collect flat pack boxes when racking collapsed and fell on her, causing fatal injuries. The racking which collapsed had been in a poor condition. Important locking pins were missing.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that if the company had properly erecetd and maintained its racking, the incident would never have happened. Virtually all industries use racking in one form or another. It was hoped that the case would serve as a reminder that attention to detail was crucial when erecting, maintaining and inspecting racking to ensure its integrity.


Fall down well: serious injuries

During an open house viewing of a property, a prospective buyer stepped onto a wooden board which was covering a well. The board gave way and she fell 30 feet down the well. She suffered head injuries and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. The estate agents had been warned about the well and that the board which was covering it did not look safe. The estate agents did not properly investigate if there was a risk of people falling down the well.

Fall into sewage well

In August 2011 an employee of Tardis Environmental UK Ltd, who wishes to remain anonymous, was clearing a sewage well blockage at a housing development in Halesowen, West Midlands. A pump at the bottom of the well had stopped working because it had become blocked with bulky waste material. The employee used a road tanker with pump and hose attachments. He opened a grid at the top of the well and stood over it to manoeuvre the hose. The hose moved and caused him to fall into the well. He ingested raw sewage and suffered friction burns and bruising. He had been trained in the use of the pumping equipment but had not received any instruction or training in how to empty deep sewage wells.



Wind turbine death in gearbox shaft

Colin Sinclair, an employee of Siemens plc, was inspecting a wind turbine at Causeymire windfarm in December 2015. He escorted RWE Innogy UK Ltd staff to the top of a wind turbine. His harness became entangled in a high-speed unguarded rotating shaft of a gearbox. He suffered fatal injuries. The gearbox had been inadequately guarded since January 2009 and the rotating shafts were exposed.

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