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Fines for Drax Power Plant and Konecranes

21/02/12: Two companies have been fined after a worker broke his foot at Drax Power Station, North Yorkshire. The injury was sustained after a 13kg weight dropped four metres from a crane above. The victim, a mechanic fitter from Scunthorpe, was together with a colleague operating the 21-tonne crane and needed to change the direction. The two were trying to pull down a chain controlled by the steering mechanism, using a steel pole that had been provided. In the process, the chain and counter-balance weight detached away from the crane and crashed down. The worker, aged just 19, lost balance and the weight fell on his right foot. The safety boots he was wearing couldn’t prevent a fracture.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) lodged an investigation into the incident on the 22nd of March 2010. The result was prosecution of Drax Power Limited, which employs about 750 employees at the power station nearby. A permanent on-site contractor who was charged with maintaining the cranes and their hoists, Konecranes UK Ltd was also prosecuted. The HSE engineers told Selby Magistrates’ Court that the 13kg weight had not been secured tightly in place as it had been attached with only one nut and bolt. In addition, the crane had skipped two out of its four monthly services and had gone nine months without being fully checked. The six cranes in the plant’s mill bay area had to be taken out of use after the incident.

Andy Denison, the HSE inspector, expressed his disappointment at the company’s resolve to skip equipment maintenance. He condemned their engineers’ decision to prioritize breakdowns while turning a blind eye on servicing. By failing to make sure the crane was in good shape, Drax Power Limited had no choice but plead guilty to breaching section 5(1) of 1998’s Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. Konecranes UK Limited admitted to faulting regulation 3(1) of 1974’s Health & Safety at Work Act.