Birkenhead Shipbuilder fined £400,000 for safety failings

A Birkenhead ship builder and repairer has appeared in court after a worker suffered serious injuries whilst carrying out repair work.

The 59 year old worker from Ellesmere Port suffered fractures and crush injuries to his right hand in the incident, which occurred on the 20 July 2015, which resulted in his being off work for 5 months.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted Cammell Laird Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders for serious safety failings.

Liverpool Magistrates Court heard today (5 December 2016) that the worker had been repairing a lathe at the time of the incident. While completing the repair he noticed that the shafts and couplings were dirty. In order to clean them he wrapped an emery cloth around the lead screw and turned the lathe on. As the machine began to run his right hand was pulled in to the moving parts.

Cammell Lairds risk assessment failed to identify the risks involved in the common practice of using emery cloth on moving parts. It also failed to recognise the way in which its employees were working, with most machinists carrying out their own maintenance work rather than referring such tasks to the maintenance section.   A system of lock off, which would have prevented reconnection of the power to the machine, had been identified and was outlined in the written health and safety management system but had not been properly communicated to employees or implemented.

Cammell Laird Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Ltd of Cammell Laird Shipyard, Campbeltown Road, Birkenhead pleaded guilty to a breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £400,000 And ordered to pay costs of £7,683.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Karen Fearon said: “The Defendant had developed a Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) but failed to ensure that the system had permeated all parts of the organisation. If the HSMS had been followed this accident may not have occurred. Maintenance was being carried out on machinery which was energised whilst someone was in the dangerous part of that machine. There was no lock off, poor control and poor management. Prior to maintenance the equipment was not shutdown, isolated and residual energy released and secured with a means to prevent inadvertent reconnection (e.g. by locking off with a padlock) as it should have been.”

For more information on what employers need to do to protect employees carrying out maintenance on machinery please visit –

For guidance on the use of emery cloth on metalworking lathes please visit –

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement
  2. More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at:
  3. Further HSE news releases are available at




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