• Robert Spicer

Tata Steel: Serious Molten Metal Burns: Massive Fine

Molten metal burns: £200,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Tata Steel Ltd (2015) Swansea Crown Court, February 16

Tata Steel Ltd has been fined following an incident in which three workers suffered serious burns from molten steel.

Significant points of the case

  • In April 2013 Kevin Watts, a trainee crane driver employed by Tata, and two workmates, escaped from the top of a crane when a ladle containing 300 tonnes of molten metal dislodged and spilled. They had been operating an electric overhead crane which carried the ladle. One of the hooks on the ladle was not working properly.

  • The metal caught fire and reached the cab of the crane. Watts suffered severe burns on his head and forearms. His colleagues suffered less serious burns.

  • The crane’s camera system had not been operating properly for some time. This had been reported on near-miss and pre-use checks but had not been remedied.

  • Lighting, which employees stated was poor, cut out completely during the incident.

  • Training documents were ambiguous and instructions had not been communicated to all drivers.

Tata was fined £200,000 plus £11,000 costs for a breach of section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

An HSE inspector made the following comments after the case:

  • Given the potential consequences of a ladle of holding 300 tonnes of molten metal spilling its load onto the floor, control measures should be watertight. The incident could have been avoided if safety measures, which were introduced after the incident, had been in place at the time.

  • Companies must maintain plant and machinery properly and instruct, train, inform and supervise staff consistently if they are going to prevent injury.

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