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Worker nearly fell into a stream of molten metal after safety failings

April 15 2013

An iron foundry has been fined after an employee narrowly escaped falling into a stream of molten metal when he fell from a collapsing overhead platform.

The 42 year-old suffered bruising to his arm, shoulder and neck when he fell to the front of the platform. Had he fallen to the back he would have tumbled into the1400 degree metal stream.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that employees, who took regular samples of the metal stream on both sides of the production line, used the platform as a step to cross the conveyor.

The platform, however, was only intended to hold sampling equipment and was unsuitable for this purpose.

Dudley Magistrates’ Court was told Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited hadn’t introduced acceptable safe working practices or monitored the custom and practice around the dangerous area.

The shelf collapsed after years of misuse. Other platforms surrounding the area were old and unstable and missing important safety features such as handrails.

The Brockmoor Foundry Company Limited, of Leys Road, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act 1974 and were fined £10,400 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector John Glynn said: “The employee was extremely lucky to have only suffered bruising – as it was a matter of good fortune that he fell towards the front of the platform.

“He could so easily have fallen off the platform entirely, or worse, fallen backwards into the molten metal stream.

“The incident was entirely avoidable and occurred because the company failed to assess the risks and control the hazards associated with their work activities.

“The case demonstrates the importance of effective management. Had the company performed a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks surrounding the area, provided appropriate work equipment and effectively managed their employees’ systems of work, safety in this dangerous environment would have been significantly increased.”