Two Firms Fined Following Serious Workplace Injury

Worker Suffered Multiple Fractures After Being Struck By Piling Hammer


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

Workplace injury experts at Irwin Mitchell have called for companies to take greater responsibility for the health and safety of staff after a worker suffered a serious injuries, including multiple fractures, when he was struck by a four-tonne piling hammer.

During works to renew a sewage outfall on a Hartlepool beach, the sling supporting the hammer broke and the machine fell, knocking Eric Wilson, 62, into the water.

Mr Wilson was in hospital for 11 days and has still been unable to return to work two-and-a-half years after the 2012 incident.

Hartlepool Magistrates' Court heard that Southbay Civil Engineering Ltd, Mr Wilson's employer, and principal contractor Costain Ltd, had failed to plan and manage the works correctly, resulting in the incident.

A HSE inspection found that unsafe working practices putting stress on the slings led to the incident, as well as a failure to adapt to changes in the work plan when the decision was made to use a larger hammer.

Both firms were fined £19,000 each, plus costs, after pleading guilty to safety regulation breaches.

HSE inspector Martin Smith said: "This worker's injuries should not and need not have happened. Had the work plan been changed when the circumstances changed and a different hammer was brought into use, it could have easily been avoided by using a suitable lifting machine.

"Instead, a system of work evolved that was far from safe and as a result part of the sling was stretched across the sharp edge of the excavator bucket, causing it to break.

"The failures by both companies to look properly at the risks involved and then organise the lifting operation properly put staff at needless risk. This sadly led to the painful and life-changing injuries suffered by Mr Wilson."

Expert Opinion
Through our work representing those injured at work we are well aware of the serious consequences workplace injuries can have and it is absolutely vital employers take their responsibility for safety seriously.

"That means ensuring safe working practices are in place, staff are trained correctly and risks are assessed and mitigated against to ensure workers are protected.
Sally Rissbrook, Partner