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Steelwork company fined after employee injured by falling metal

16 July 2014

A Herefordshire steelwork company has been fined after an employee was hurt when a metal sheet fell on his foot.

Hereford Magistrates’ Court heard on the 15th July that the 30-year-old man, who has asked not to be named, was working at Frank H Dale Ltd’s premises in Mill Street, Leominster, when the incident happened on 3 October 2012.

He had been asked to move some metal sheets, each six metres long, 35 centimetres wide and 10 millimetres thick, using an overhead travelling crane and a permanent lifting magnet placed in the centre. The sheets had to be moved about ten metres and lifted around 1.5 metres from the ground and placed on a conveyor.
The employee, from Leominster, had successfully moved two of the metal sheets, each of which weighed 180kg. Whilst moving the third sheet it detached from the magnet, bounced off the conveyor and landed on the employee’s foot. He fractured three toes and was off work for six weeks.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the magnet was unsuitable for lifting long and thin sheet metal and the manufacturer’s instructions for its use were not followed.
Frank H Dale Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £11,631.40 in costs.
After the hearing, HSE inspector Tariq Khan said: "Permanent lifting magnets are a common accessory in industry and must be used correctly. Users need to understand the limitations of the ones they have in use.

"This incident could easily have been avoided had the company provided suitable training. Most permanent lifting magnets are supplied with comprehensive instructions and companies must ensure users understand them and are trained in their use – many suppliers of this equipment may provide training.
"Although the steel sheet was within the safe working load for the magnet being used at the time, it was not designed to lift long, thin pieces of sheet metal.
"It was nothing more than luck that the first two sheets were successfully moved and the injured employee was very fortunate that the 180kg metal sheet fell on to a conveyor before landing on his foot. Had it landed on him directly then a more serious injury may have been inflicted.”

Guidance on the safe use of magnetic lifting equipment can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk/foi/internalops/ocs/200-299/234_16/234_16ID.htm