Renewable energy company Siemens Gamesa – which fabricates wind turbines and builds wind farms – has been ordered to pay more than half a million pounds for failing to provide fall protection inside one of its turbine blades at its factory in Hull.
On 11 November 2017, a 30-year-old employee was working inside one of the turbine blades, using a vacuume to clean off fibreglass dust and deposits.
He was standing on the 'web', a midway platform inside the blade, and as he approached the edge, he fell 1.8 metres. He sustained injuries including a broken collarbone, 10 broken ribs, a broken wrist and a punctured lung. He was off work for two months.
Leeds Magistrates’ Court was told that Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy had provided a ladder to access to the web but had not provided any fall protection either side of the ladder.
'These incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work'
Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Height Regulations. The company was fined £533,334 and ordered to pay £16,274 in prosecution costs.
these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work
The company has since provided edge protection and after risk assessing the task Siemens designed out the need to work at height by rotating the blade 90 degrees.
After the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Denise Fotheringham said: 'Falls from height often result in life-changing or fatal injuries. In most cases, these incidents are needless and could be prevented by properly planning the work to ensure that effective preventative and protective measures are in place, such as edge protection or barriers built to the correct standard.
'This incident could have easily been prevented if the company had installed adequate edge protection to prevent falls.'
In 2018, the firm was fined £66,000 after a worker was struck by a 50kg steel coil during the pre-assembly of a wind farm just off the Suffolk coast.