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Man was electrocuted in ship's hold

PUBLISHED: 13:26 28 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:30 03 July 2010

A GREAT Yarmouth engineering company was yesterday ordered to pay nearly £60,000 in fines and costs after health and safety breaches resulted in a welder being electrocuted when the ship's hold he was working in flooded with water.

A GREAT Yarmouth engineering company was yesterday ordered to pay nearly £60,000 in fines and costs after health and safety breaches resulted in a welder being electrocuted when the ship's hold he was working in flooded with water.

Experienced welder Kevin Hall, 46, was working in a confined area on the vessel Pulford Achilles which was in a dry dock for repairs at Richards Dry Dock and Engineering on Southtown Road, Yarmouth.

Two other welders were carrying out work above deck, which caused water inadvertently to flow down and into the space below where Mr Hall was working, Norfolk Crown Court heard.

The hold flooded and Mr Hall was electrocuted.

The confined space combined with the threat of electrocution to others hindered his rescue and made subsequent attempts to save his life more difficult, the court was told.

Mr Hall, from Blofield, was attached to ropes and brought up through a hatch but was dead on arrival at hospital.

Mr Hall lived with his mother Marjorie, who in an impact statement told the court his death was a devastating blow to her and her family.

The court heard that since the incident on August 5, 2005, the company had undergone a full review of its safety procedures and made further improvements.

Richards Dry Dock and Engineering Ltd admitted failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Judge Paul Downes fined the company £25,000 and £34,744 costs towards the prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

Judge Downes said it was a tragic case with “dreadful consequences” but said he had to balance the gravity of the offence with the financial position of the company.

Jonathan Caplan QC, for the company, said it sincerely regretted the death of Mr Hall who was a valued employee.

But he said the company, which had been operating for 200 years, employed 58 employees and was a significant local employer.

Since the tragedy the company, which had an excellent safety record, had carried out a full review of their safety procedures and had appointed a full time health and safety manager. It had also trained a rescue team recruited from the workforce which undertakes regular training including exercises with the local fire service.

“The company takes safety seriously,” he said. “This company has never before had any prosecution by Health and Safety regulators.”

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