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Stevedores fined after trailer fall injury

05 February 2015

A Glamorgan stevedoring company has been fined for breaking safety legislation after an employee suffered severe leg injuries falling from a trailer.

Nigel Preece, 58, of Pyle, Bridgend, was unloading steel coils from a flatbed trailer when he fell 1.3 metres sustaining two broken legs.

Mr Preece’s employer, Briton Ferry Stevedoring, appeared before Swansea Magistrates in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident.

The court heard that Mr Preece had to stand on the trailer and feed a lifting strap through the centre of the coils so they could be taken off the vehicle. After lifting a coil, he replaced the loose board on the trailer floor which covered the well used to hold the coil in place during transport.

On this occasion, the board was not properly placed and when Mr Preece stood on it, the board moved causing him to lose his balance and fall off the trailer, breaking both his legs above the knee. He had to undergo a 10-and-a-half hour operation and was treated in intensive care for one week. He was unable to walk for three months without support and it was six months before he could walk unaided.

An investigation by HSE found the company had failed to make sure the work was carried out safely or that there were measures in place to prevent or reduce the effects of any fall.

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Briton Ferry Stevedoring of Giants Wharf, Briton Ferry, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,497.

HSE Inspector, Steve Richardson, speaking after the hearing, said: "Mr Preece suffered extreme pain and serious injuries and could have lost his life because his employer did not take simple measures to plan, manage or control the work he was asked to carry out.

"Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths and there is no excuse for employers failing to safeguard workers who have to work at height.”