Thursday 28 November 2013

Lack of isolation/lock-out system results in death

The lack of a system for non-standard work requiring isolation of equipment resulted in the death of an electrician who was crushed by an overhead crane at a Preston factory.
The circumstances were:
  • The accident occurred on a platform next to a crane at Assystem UK Ltd on 12 March 2011.
  • The platform, which was around four metres above the ground, had been installed for a specific project in September 2000.
  • The platform had remained at the factory but there was no barrier at the bottom of the access ladder to prevent workers climbing up it while the crane was in use.
  • The crane cleared the top of the guard rails around the ladder and platform by just 8.5cm. 
  • Despite this, the company had not identified the risk of workers being crushed by the crane if they used the platform so no action had been taken to stop this from happening.
  • End stops had previously been fitted to the rails used by the overhead crane that stopped the crane reaching the platform, but these had later been removed.
  • On the day of the incident, Liam O’Neill had been trying to replace a cable, which hangs down from the crane to a handheld control, after it had developed an intermittent fault.
  • The crane had been moved over the platform so Mr O’Neill could reach the top of the cable where it connects to a junction box on the crane. 
  • There was no system of work requiring isolation and Mr O’Neill had been able to work on a platform in the path of the overhead crane without the power to the crane first being switched off.
  • As he climbed onto the platform, the crane moved and he was crushed between the guard rails around the top of the ladder and the crane itself.

Assystem UK Ltd., £212,500 (ind. costs). 
TheHSE Inspector said:
“Liam tragically lost his life because his employer didn’t think about the potential consequences of having a working platform in the path of an overhead crane. Assystem should never have allowed the end stops to be removed from the crane’s rails when it was still possible for workers to climb up the ladder onto the platform. It would have been simple to put a system in place to make sure power to the crane was switched off before anyone climbed onto the platform, or to put up a barrier to prevent access to the platform.”

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