An HSE picture of the giant valve

Worker hit by 1.5 tonne valve on water job

Phil Puccio

Newcastle upon Tyne Magistrates’ Court heard that on 5 June 2018, Northumbrian Water Limited had contracted JW Colpitts & Co Limited to connect a 1.5 tonne water valve in a confined chamber at Kielder Reservoir, Northumberland.

The valve was suspended from a lorry mounted crane when it swung across the chamber and struck the worker. He sustained an open compound fracture of his tibia and fibula and was airlifted to hospital.

An HSE investigation found that both companies had failed to risk assess the work and the additional hazards introduced by a change in the scope of work. They failed to implement suitable safety measures and safe systems of work and provide adequate supervision to the workers.

Northumbrian Water Limited of Durham pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £365,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,360.69 and a victim surcharge of £120.00.

JW Colpitts & Co Limited of Blyth also pleaded guilty and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,452.22 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Clare Maltby said: “Companies must understand that work activities involving confined spaces, work at height and lifting operations must be subject to a robust risk assessment.

“Furthermore, risk assessments should be reviewed if the scope of work changes and additional hazards are introduced.

“Companies must also ensure that they have suitable safety control measures and safe systems of work in place to address the identified risks. Appropriate arrangements should be in place to supervise and monitor work.”

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