A man working with 2 colleagues lost his life while removing sludge and debris from within part of a cooling tower at Connah’s Quay Power Station on 27th August 2007. HSE deemed the incident to be entirely foreseeable, the deceased was working in poor light inside the tower, and had entered an enclosed culvert to check the depth of water in the sump.

Colleagues who heard his shouts after he fell in could not rescue him because he had disappeared from sight, his body was recovered from the sump.

Investigation established his employer, Epsco Ltd, of Perth, failed to ensure a safe system of work was devised and implemented for the work. It was charged under S.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, pleaded guilty, and was fined a total £35,000 plus costs of £120,000.

After the case at Mold Crown Court concluded, an HSE Principal Inspector commented: “This incident was entirely foreseeable and yet it was still allowed to happen. Epsco Ltd would have known the deceased or one of his colleagues would need to approach the sump in the course of their work. The inherent risk of working in this manner should have been obvious to any diligent employer.

This company failed to put a safe system of work into place. The enclosed area where this work was taking place was poorly lit, noisy and conditions were wet and slippery. The cost of providing barriers or other measures to prevent this incident and the time and effort involved would have been minimal. The real tragedy here is the human cost that has resulted from the death and the ease with which his death could have been prevented. I hope that other employers take heed of this message.” 2