Last reviewed 19 January 2022

A contractor and a water management company have been fined after a worker was injured when he was hit by a 1.5 tonne water valve.

Newcastle upon Tyne Magistrates’ Court was told that, in June 2018, Northumbrian Water Limited had contracted JW Colpitts & Co Limited to connect the valve in a confined chamber at Kielder Reservoir, Northumberland.

It 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.

A Health and Safety Executive (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 also failed to implement suitable safety measures and safe systems of work and did not provide adequate supervision of the workers.

Northumbrian Water pleaded guilty to breaching ss. 2(1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and was fined £365,000 with costs of £14,360.69 and a victim surcharge of £120.00.

Colpitts also pleaded guilty to breaching s.2(1) of the 1974 Act and was fined £30,000 with costs of £17,452.22 and a victim surcharge of £120.

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.”

They must also ensure that they have suitable safety control measures and safe systems of work in place to address the identified risks, she went on. Appropriate arrangements should be in place to supervise and monitor work.