A port operator who was found guilty of safety failings that left a worker with a broken arm has had their initial £1.8m fine reduced by 70%. In January of this year, C.RO Ports London was taken to court following an incident on 6th June 2014 at their terminal in Purfleet, Essex. An employee, who was working as part of a team of three, was securing a vessel’s heavy mooring ropes to land at the site. The worker’s hand because caught between the rotating drum of a capstan and a heaving line, dragging his arm in and wrapping it tightly round the drum – which measured at just a few centimetres in diameter. As a result, the worker received multiple fractures and nerve and ligament damage. He has since returned to work and completes the same daily tasks.
During the initial investigation, it was discovered that C.RO Ports London had failed to suitably identify and control the risks related to the use of powered capstans at a port, and due to their ignorance, had failed to apply a safe system of work. An investigation carried out by the HSE (Health & Safety Executive), also found that instruction, training and supervision of the workers operating the capstan were inadequate.
As a result of the company’s failure to implement an exclusion zone around the capstan, they received an initial fine of £1.8million. This fine was applied before new sentencing guidelines came into force. At the time of C.RP Ports’ fine, an additional four companies were fined £1million or more in the same time period.
Following the initial sentencing, C.RO Ports appealed the fine; stating that it was excessive as the offence was not ‘flagrant’ and the company had not deliberately ignored any previous near-miss incidents as a result of the capstan. The company argued that they had an otherwise good safety record and had completed regular and satisfactory risk assessments, and devised a safe system of work for mooring operations.
Three judges for the case agreed to reduce the fine to £750,000, which was reduced further to £500,000 as C.RO Ports had admitted their guilt.