Global Firms Fined for Safety Failings after Worker is Killed
A worker was killed and another seriously injured whilst working on an offshore wind farm construction site. Two global firms have been sentenced following the incident that occurred whilst a group of engineers were loading the blades of a wind turbine onto a sea barge in May 2010.
Whilst loading the blades of the wind turbine onto the barge, a 2.11 tonne section of the blade’s transport arrangement broke off, crushing two workers. The crush fatally injured one employee whilst seriously injuring another.
Frank Kroeger suffered a variety of serious injuries including the crushing of his right hand which in turn led to nerve damage of his thumb and fingers, multiple rib fractures, a collapsed lung as well as a ruptured spleen and lacerations to his liver. Kroeger was airlifted to a UK hospital from the scene, where he had to be resuscitated on three occasions. Mr Kroeger’s injuries were life changing and after spending a total of three weeks in hospital, he endured a long period of rehabilitation in his home country of Germany.
The family of the fatally injured man have requested his anonymity.
Investigation & Sentencing
The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) investigation revealed serious safety failings in the management systems for loading operations of both firms. It was such failings that allowed important parts of equipment to go unchecked before being used.
After a four week-long trial, HSE found Fluor Ltd guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act and ordered the company to pay £275,000 in fines and £271,048 in costs.
Charged with the same offence, Siemens Windpower A/S (SWP) was also charged with breaching Section 2(1) of the same Health & Safety at Work Act. The firm was fined a total of £375,000 and ordered to pay £105,355 in costs.
HSE inspector, Julie Raynor, said after the hearing:
“This incident could easily have been avoided had suitable systems and procedures been in place to ensure that all loads were properly connected whilst being lifted.
“Had the right questions been asked when the lift was being planned and had the bolt and two brackets holding the blade and frame together been checked before they were lifted, the death and serious injury of two workers could have been prevented.
“This case clearly highlights the need to ensure that relevant information is considered when lift plans are produced to ensure that all of the relevant risks are considered.”
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Source: Health & Safety Executive