A company has been fined £400,000 following an accident involving a tower walkway.
Judge Peter Heywood, sitting at Swansea Crown Court, heard how a worker at Valero Energy UK’s Pembroke Refinery had suffered fractures and lacerations to both his legs, as well as a dislocated knee, following the accident in March 2012.
The Berth 6 access tower walkway, which was providing gangway access to a stationary oil tanker, suddenly dropped 3.5 metres, causing the worker to be trapped when his legs became tangled in loose cables and he was left dangling over the side of the walkway.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) discovered that multiple failings led to the incident. The company had failed to carry out a sufficient risk assessment on the operation of the access tower, and had not provided adequate instructions or training on the safe use of the walkway.
The company was also found to have failed to carry out investigations into earlier, similar incidents involving the same gangway.
Valero Energy UK, Pembrokeshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, and was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £60,614.
HSE inspector Andrew Knowles said: “It was particularly disappointing to find that although the company knew there had been problems with the operation of the access tower, the company had failed to investigate these properly and had relied on changes to instructions, rather than taking action to modify the defective hardware, as required by the hierarchy of risk control.
“This was even more surprising in view of the fact that the company operates a major hazard refinery site where you would expect such problems to be taken more seriously and effectively investigated, with suitable corrective actions implemented.”