• Robert Spicer

Tata Steel fined £450,000 after worker fell into unguarded pit

Tata Steel fined £450,000 following fall of worker into pit [remove for online]

Health and Safety Executive v Tata Steel UK Ltd (2018) Sheffield Crown Court, September 3

Statutory reference: s.2 of the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974 (HSWA)

Tata Steel has been fined for safety breaches after a worker fell into an open pit.

The facts

  • In February 2014 Steven Ayres was working at the company’s plant in Stockbridge. He was emptying a skip at the bottom of an open pit, 3 to 4 metres deep. Working with an overhead crane, he removed floor plates from the pit, emptied the skip and began to replace the plates.

  • As the plates were being removed, Ayres stepped back and fell into the pit. He suffered injuries which included damage to his kidney and ribs.

  • A risk assessment completed 16 months before the incident had identified the need to provide a barrier around the pit when the floor plates had been removed. This was not implemented.

The decision

The company was fined £450,000 plus £32,000 costs under s.2 of HSWA.

An HSE inspector commented after the case that a fall from this height into a pit containing various metal objects could easily have resulted in a fatality. Companies should act swiftly if and when risks are identified and relevant control measures should be put in place when working at height.

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