Anglian Water Fined £400,000 After Pleading Guilty To Health And Safety Breaches After 3 Workers Injured At Water Installations
Company was aware that many grids that covered submerged pumps in the wet wells were unsafe and could become dangerous during routine maintenance says GMB.
GMB, the union for water workers, commented on the fine of £400,000 for Anglian Water Services Ltd (AWS) after three workers were injured in two separate incidents at its Water Recycling Centres in Dunstable, Bedfordshire in October 2013 and Saffron Walden, Essex in February 2014. See notes to editors for copy of HSE press release dated 18th December 2015.
Michael Ainsley, GMB Regional Officer, said “This fine of £400,000 was reduced from £600,000 for an early guilty plea in Luton Crown Court. AWS were ordered to pay HSE’s full costs of £41,711.58. This means AWS have a criminal conviction that will affect their business for years going forwards.
What is particularly galling about this case is that the company was aware from their own audits that many grids that covered submerged pumps in the wet wells were unsafe and could become dangerous during routine maintenance.
The well that our members fell down was mentioned specifically several months before but little or no action was taken.
The company response to this accident was to use our members as scapegoats and they were dismissed for alleged H/S infringements. Despite being confronted by the evidence of their own audits and emails they refused to listen and the dismissals were upheld at appeal.
GMB cases for unfair dismissal were settled before going to tribunal and are subject to gagging orders while industrial injury cases are pending.
The second incident did not result in our member being disciplined.
This is a very significant fine which should give cause to sharp intakes of breath in certain quarters, as fines for health and safety offences that do not involve a fatality are usually in the tens of thousands of pounds.”
Contact: Mick Ainsley on 07974 250947 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07974 251 823
Notes to editors
Copy of press release from HSE
Cambridgeshire Water Supplier fined, after three maintenance workers injured.
A Cambridgeshire water supplier, Anglian Water Services Limited (AWSL), has been fined, after three workers were injured in two separate incidents at its Water Recycling Centres in Dunstable, Bedfordshire and Saffron Walden, Essex.
Two employees aged 27 and 53, both from Bedfordshire were carrying out maintenance repair work on two submerged pumps in the wet well at the Dunstable Water recycling Centre on 21 October, 2013.
One employee was standing on metal grids above the well, having used a block and tackle to lower the refurbished pump into position. His co-worker, was in the bottom of the well, installing the refurbished pump.
The worker on the metal grid fell three metres into the well, after the metal grid gave way. He sustained two broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade, a punctured lung, severe bruising and a deep cut to his head. The other employee was also injured, after being struck by the falling grid. He sustained a severe laceration to his left buttock, bruising, stress and recurring nightmares.
Luton Crown Court heard, a supervisor from AWSL had highlighted several concerns with the grid flooring to the wet well at the Dunstable site, following an inspection eight months earlier (26 February, 2013).
The necessary repairs, which could have prevented the accident, were not carried out.
While the incident was being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a second incident took place, at the company’s Water Recycling Centre in Essex.
Jeff Shepherd, age 56, of Newport, Essex, fell three metres into a well, after stepping onto a well cover on 6 February, 2014.
The well began rapidly filling with dirty water, Mr Shepherd called for help, and was rescued by a contractor who had been working elsewhere on the site.
The well had no ladder and no other means of escape.
The court heard he sustained minor physical injuries, but is now being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the ongoing mental stress from the incident. He also suffers from recurring nightmares.
The Health and Safety Executive commenced a separate investigation into this incident.
Anglian Water Services Ltd has been at the centre of four previous prosecutions by HSE, the most recent of which were in 1997, 2004 and 2010. An improvement notice was served on AWSL following a fall from a height accident in 2007.
Anglian Water Services Limited, of Lancaster Way, Huntingdon, was fined after pleading guilty to breaches of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Outside court, Health and Safety Inspector Emma Page said: “Accidents involving falls from height remain one of the commonest causes of serious injury at work. As the regulator HSE is expected to take appropriate action when those who have control of work at height fail to take the necessary measures to reduce risk from falling.”
Insert link to fall from height pages http://www.hse.gov.uk/food/falls.htm
Notes to Editors
The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
Further HSE news releases are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press
Erin Rhone, RNN:
07532 325 540
HSE Out of Hours: 0151 922 1221