Boom fatality leads to heavy fine

By Euan Youdale16 September 2014

A Glasgow, UK-based company has been fined £200,000 following a boom accident which resulted in the death of one of its employees.

SW Global Resourcing pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act following the incident at the Annick Water Viaduct, Stewarton, Ayrshire, in 2010.

Between late March and mid-April 2010 employees of the company were working to cap and grout strengthening rods which had been inserted across the arches of the Annick Water Viaduct. This involved work at height using AWPs positioned on concrete plinths which had been built to create level working surfaces.

Despite the fact that all of the plinths were built on sloping ground with the front ends of some of the plinths significantly higher than the immediately adjacent ground none of them were built with any end stops or edge protection.

On 13 April 2010, SW Global Resourcing employee Leslie Watson was working from an AWP basket at a height of approximately 13 m (42 feet) positioned on one of the concrete plinths. The AWP drove off the edge of the plinth and overturned, throwing Mr Watson from its basket against a column of the viaduct and from there to the shallow river bed. He died at the scene as a result of his injuries

The case was investigated by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) with assistance from the Health and Safety Executive. The investigating authorities found that no suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been carried out for the task and the system of work was unsafe. The accident could have been avoided had reasonably practicable precautions, in particular the use of edge protection, been taken.

Gary Aitken, head of the COPFS Health & Safety Division, said, “SW Global Resourcing Limited accepted liability and the Crown accepted their guilty plea to the contraventions of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

“The company failed to ensure the safety of its employees and as a result of this Leslie Watson died. This was an entirely avoidable tragedy which has left family and friends devastated at the loss of a loved one.

Mr Aitken added, “Hopefully, today's outcome will highlight the need for companies to keep the health and safety of their employees to the fore.”

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