Companies sentenced after workers are fatally injured

Siemens Windpower and Fluor Ltd are sentenced after one worker was fatally-injured, and another seriously injured, during the construction of an offshore wind farm.
On May 21st 2010 a team of engineers were loading wind turbine blades onto a sea barge for delivery to Greater Gabbard, off the Suffolk coast. During the loading at Pakeston Quay, Harwich, a 2.11 tonne part fell, crushing one worker, and seriously injuring another.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard both workers were employed by Siemens Windpower A/S (SWP) but were working for Fluor Ltd, the principal contractor.

The injured man, Frank Kroeger, was airlifted to Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge where he was resuscitated twice. He suffered a ruptured spleen, lacerations to his liver, a collapsed lung, several rib fractures, and nerve damage to his thumb and fingers.

His injuries required nearly three weeks in hospital in the UK, and a long period of rehabilitation and treatment. The family of the fatally-injured man asked that his name not be released.

A HSE investigation found serious safety failings in the two firms’ systems for the loading operation, allowing pieces of equipment to go unchecked before being lifted.

Fluor Ltd was found guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and ordered to pay £275,000 in fines, plus £271,048 costs.

Siemens Windpower was charged with the same offence and also a Section 2 (1) breach of the same act. They were also sentenced and ordered to pay £375,000 in fines, plus costs of £105,355.

Julie Rayner, HSE Inspector, said: “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.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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