Fareham-based company fined after worker lost his leg in accident

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A COMPANY has been fined £46,500 after a high-pressure water gun left two employees with life-changing disabling injuries.

The men, named as Mark Sharples and Ian Davies, had been working for Fareham-based Hydro Pumps Ltd, completing work to the Tay Road Bridge, Dundee, when the incidents happened in 2007.

Mr Sharples, 27, was using the hand-held jet gun, which delivers a high-pressure concentrated stream of water that July when he slipped and fell, losing his grip on the gun.

He toppled forward as he had been balancing himself against the force generated by the gun and the water jet penetrated his abdomen.

His injuries were so severe he has been unable to return to work. Work was suspended pending an internal investigation.

However, within 10 minutes of it resuming on August 1, Mr Davies, 40, who had been brought in to replace the first, was seriously injured when the same gun came apart in his hands and he lost control of it, resulting in the water jet shooting into his knee.

He was taken to hospital with severe leg injuries but despite two operations, it needed to be amputated.

Hydro Pumps Ltd, of Highmead, Fareham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees; in particular failing to ensure that they were not exposed to injury from the use of a 
high pressure water jetting gun.

Hydro Pumps failed to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment in relation to the work, particularly as they had modified the gun.

In addition, the company failed to provide a safe system of work, failed to provide and maintain safe equipment, and failed to supervise the use of protective equipment.

Following the case, HSE inspector Gerry McCulloch, said: ‘These tragic and almost identical incidents could have been avoided had Hydro Pumps identified the risks associated with this kind of work and implemented appropriate risk-reduction measures.

‘The first incident should’ve been a wake-up call but little changed and it was only ten minutes after the job restarted that the second man was injured.’

Hydro Pumps’ MD was unavailable for comment when contacted by The News.