Cambridgeshire-based water supplier, Anglian Water Services Limited, has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after three workers were injured in two separate incidents at recycling centres in Bedfordshire and Essex.

Two employees, aged 27 and 53, from Bedfordshire, were carrying out maintenance repair work on two submerged pumps in the wet well at the Dunstable Water recycling Centre on 21 October 2013. The worker on the metal grid fell three metres into the well, after the metal grid gave way. He suffered two broken ribs, a fractured shoulder blade, a punctured lung, severe bruising and a deep cut to his head. The other employee was also injured, after being struck by the falling grid. He sustained a severe laceration to his left buttock, bruising, stress and recurring nightmares.

Luton Crown Court heard a supervisor from Anglian Water had highlighted several concerns with the grid flooring to the wet well at the Dunstable site, following an inspection eight months earlier. Necessary repairs were found to have not been carried out.

While the incident was being investigated by the HSE, another incident took place, at the company’s Water Recycling Centre in Essex.

Jeff Shepherd, 56, of Newport, Essex, fell three metres into a well, after stepping onto a well cover on 6 February, 2014.

The well began filling with dirty water, and Mr Shepherd had to be rescued by a contractor who had been working elsewhere on the site. The well had no ladder and no other means of escape.

Mr Shepherd sustained minor physical injuries, but is now being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, due to the ongoing mental stress from the incident. He also suffers from recurring nightmares.

Anglian Water Services Limited, of Lancaster Way, Huntingdon, was fined £400,000 with costs of £41,711 after pleading guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Cedrec's take

This is the fifth run-in with the HSE for Anglian Water, with proceedings taken against them in 1997, 2004, an improvement notice in 2007, and further fines in 2010.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is a successful piece of legislation which is credited with reductions in work-related safety incidents. The particular provision Anglian pleaded guilty to breaching was “General duties of employers to employees” which states “It is the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.” By not providing a safe place of work, Anglian Water did a disservice to their employees.

Hopefully fifth time is the charm for Anglian Water, and their familiarisation with the HSE will become a thing of the past.