In a case brought by the Health and Safety Executive, Newcastle upon Tyne Magistrates’ Court heard that on June 5, 2018, Northumbrian Water Limited had contracted JW Colpitts & Co Limited to connect a 1.5 tonne water valve in a confined chamber at Kielder Reservoir, Northumberland.
The valve had been suspended from a lorry-mounted crane when it swung across the chamber and struck the worker.
The worker sustained an open compound fracture of his tibia and fibula – bones in the lower leg – and had to be airlifted to hospital for treatment.
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.
Inspectors found that the two companies had failed to implement suitable safety measures and safe systems of work; and provide adequate supervision to the workers.
Northumbrian Water Limited of Northumbria House, Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
They were fined £365,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,360.69 and a victim surcharge of £120.
JW Colpitts & Co Limited, of John Anderson House, Coniston Road, Blyth Riverside Industrial Estate, Blyth, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
They were fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,452.22, along with a victim surcharge of £120.
Speaking after the hearing, 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.
“Companies must also ensure that they have suitable safety control measures and safe systems of work in place to address the identified risks.
"Appropriate arrangements should be in place to supervise and monitor work.”