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Firm has been sentenced

Posted: Wednesday 16th, October 2013

Firm in court after two workers suffer devastating injuries within a week

Date: 27 September 2013
Release No: SCO/XXX/13

A Hampshire-based firm has been sentenced for serious safety failings following
two incidents in less than a week which left two employees with life-changing
disabling injuries.

At Dundee Sheriff Court yesterday (26 Sept) Hydro Pumps Ltd was fined £46,500
after incidents arising from work to the Tay Road Bridge, Dundee in July and
August 2007, which were investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE),
and the Crown Office Health and Safety Division.

The court was told the company had been subcontracted to cut away concrete top
sections of the support columns on the bridge to allow engineers to replace worn
out support bearings.

On 26 July a 27 year-old employee was using a hand-held jet gun that delivered
a high-pressure concentrated stream of water at a 5mm distance from the surface
of the concrete. He suddenly slipped and fell losing his grip on the gun. He
toppled forward as he had been balancing himself against the force generated by
the gun and the water jet penetrated into his abdomen.

Due to his severe injuries he has been unable to return to work since.

The work was suspended pending an internal investigation. However, within ten
minutes of it resuming on 1 August a second employee, who had been brought in
to replace the first, was himself seriously injured when the same gun came apart
in his hands and he lost control of it, resulting in the water jet shooting into his

He was taken to hospital with severe leg injuries but despite two operations to try
and save his leg, it needed to be amputated.

Hydro Pumps Ltd, of Highmead, Fareham, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to
breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 by failing to
ensure the health and safety of its employees; in particular failing to ensure that
they were not exposed to injury from the use of a high pressure water jetting gun.
Hydro Pumps failed to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment in relation
to the work (particularly as they had modified the gun by shortening its lance to a
length less than recommended by the manufacturers and industry guidance and
employees were operating the gun at almost twice the force recommended by
industry guidance). In addition, the company failed to provide a safe system of
work, failed to provide and maintain safe equipment, and failed to supervise the
use of appropriate protective equipment.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Gerry McCulloch, said:

"These tragic and almost identical incidents could easily have been avoided had
Hydro Pumps Ltd identified the risks associated with this kind of work and
implemented appropriate risk-reduction measures.

"The first incident should have been a clear wake-up call that the water jetting
was unsafe but little changed and it was only ten minutes after Hydro Pumps Ltd
had restarted the job that the second man was injured.

"Two workers suffered severe and life-changing injuries, the effects of which are
still felt today and will be for the foreseeable future."

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