A steelwork company in Herefordshire has been fined after an employee was hurt when a metal sheet fell on his foot.

On 15 July, Herefordshire Magistrates’ Court heard the man involved had been asked to move some metal sheets using an overhead travelling crane and a permanent lifting magnet placed in the centre. This involved lifting the sheets around 1.5 metres from the ground and moving them 10 metres to be placed on a conveyor.

After moving two sheets, the last disconnected from the magnet bouncing off the conveyor and fractured three of the workers toes. This resulted in him being off work for six weeks.

It was found by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation that manufacturer’s instructions had not been followed, and the magnet was unsuitable for lifting the sheet of metal involved.

HSE inspector, Tariq Khan said: “Permanent lifting magnets are a common accessory in industry and must be used correctly. Users need to understand the limitations of the ones they have in use. This incident could easily have been avoided had the company provided suitable training.”

He also cautioned: “It was nothing more than luck that the first two sheets were successfully moved and the injured employee was very fortunate that the 180kg metal sheet fell on to a conveyor before landing on his foot. Had it landed on him directly then a more serious injury may have been inflicted.”

The company involved pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and were fined £12 000 and ordered to pay £11 631.40 in costs.