South East Wales

Aberthaw Power Station death companies fined £450,000

Unguarded opening
Image caption Christopher Booker fell through an unguarded opening at Aberthaw Power Station in the Vale of Glamorgan

Two companies have been fined a total of £450,000 after a maintenance worker fell to his death at a power station.

Christopher Booker, 49, from St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, fell about 12m (39ft) through an unprotected opening at Aberthaw power plant in June 2007.

Plant owner RWE npower Plc admitted breaching health and safety rules and was fined £250,000 with £30,000 costs at Cardiff Crown Court

Contractor AMEC Group Ltd of Cheshire was fined £200,000 with £30,000 costs.

Mr Booker, an agency worker, died of multiple injuries to his chest and pelvis.

The court heard that on the evening in question work was being carried out to insert equipment into a large deep pit in the water cooling system to hold back the seawater when the tide rose.

Sections of the floor gratings at the top of the pit had been removed to allow the work to proceed.

Mr Booker was working with eight others.

As the natural light faded, electric lights were turned to face those doing the grinding work which left the top of the pit in near darkness.

Mr Booker fell through the opening in the walkway to the floor below.

'Confusion and misunderstanding'

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a large opening in the walkway was left unprotected after the floor gratings had been removed.

The investigation also identified that there was confusion and misunderstanding between RWE npower and AMEC Group Ltd as to who was responsible for controlling the work at the time of Mr Booker's death.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Caroline Bird said: "This tragic case highlights the consequences of failing to do something as simple as adding protection to an opening in a walkway.

"Inadequate planning and a poor choice of safety control measures meant that a very obvious hazard remained.

"Both companies had a duty of care to Mr Booker that they failed to meet with catastrophic consequences.

"This awful incident could so easily have been prevented had the correct safety measures been taken."

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