06 August 2012
Tata to face compensation claim after fatal accident?
The family of a man who passed away during a fatal accident at work could decide to pursue a claim for compensation from his former employer.
Kevin Downey passed away at the age of 49 in April 2006 while completing a night shift on the Number 4 Blast Furnace at the Port Talbot steelworks now managed by global steel giant Tata.
At the time of this incident, Mr Downey - who had more than 30 years' experience working at the depot - was inspecting the furnace's slag pool at its cast house ahead of its closure for maintenance the next day.
However, he suffered fatal injuries when he fell into a channel transporting the 1,500-degrees Celsius material due to the fact the blocks covering it had been taken off but not replaced.
An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) established that while Mr Downey was stood on the veranda area above the channel, he was forced to retreat when steam from a granulator became too thick.
It is thought his visibility would have been down to as little as three feet, meaning that even as he attempted to retrace his steps, he subsequently fell into an open section of the channel.
Colleagues heard his cries and helped him out of the pool, but the professional died later the same day.
During a case heard at Swansea Crown Court, Tata - an organisation that employs more than 395,000 people worldwide - admitted breaching two sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was issued with a £500,000 fine for its negligence.
Colin Mew, principal inspector at the HSE, said that the lack of visibility caused by the steam and open covers was a "fatal combination" that Tata should have foreseen, thereby preventing this "horrific incident".
Meanwhile, Mr Downey's widow Tanya stated the accident has had a "devastating impact" on those close to him.
"Kevin was a safe and conscientious worker and loved by his family, friends and colleagues. We hope other families will not have to go through the pain we have since his death," she added.
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Posted by Francesca Witney