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Welder loses leg in overhead crane crush

An Essex-based supplier of prefabricated reinforced cages has been fined after a worker was crushed in between two overhead cranes and sustained life-changing injuries.

F. Brazil Reinforcements used overhead travelling cranes to lift and move large steel reinforcing cages at its site on Canvey Island, Southend-on-Sea Magistrates’ Court was told. 

One of the cranes broke down on 10 June 2015 and welder Felix Trefas had to reset the controls, which were 6 m above the ground, while working the nightshift. 

As he was resetting the faulty crane, he came into contact with another overhead crane. His left leg was crushed and had to be amputated below the knee.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the plant was poorly maintained and workers often had to climb up the supporting columns to reset them.

The investigation also uncovered the site’s poor welfare facilities, despite having been the subject of previous HSE enforcement action. 

F. Brazil Reinforcements pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and to two charges under reg 4 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.    

Summing up, the district judge said the “horrific” accident could have been avoided if the company had systems to identify that unsafe access to the cranes was regularly occurring. 

F. Brazil Reinforcements was fined £277,000 for the s 3 breach, £5,000 for the reg 4 charges and £11,900 costs.

Keeley Downey is assistant editor of IOSH Magazine

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