Company fined after worker injured in boat hatch incident

A Hampshire based boat company has been fined for safety failings after one of their contracted boat builders was left unconscious for 10 minutes when a hydraulic engine hatch closed on him.

West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard how a self-employed boat builder, contracted to work at the company was injured at work when looking inside an engine hatch on a boat which closed on him, trapping him in the chest. He sustained trauma to his heart and lungs from the impact and was taken to hospital.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 10 December 2014 at Port Hamble, Hampshire, found that the company failed to ensure that the engine hatch was safe to use. There was no prop fitted to the engine hatch to prevent it from inadvertently closing on the injured person. The company also failed to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment necessary to identify a suitably safe system of work for activities on board boats.

R F Composites Limited, of Kintyre House, Fareham, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and was fined £15,000 with costs of £1,119.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said: “The incident was wholly avoidable had RF Composites had in place a safe system of work to ensure the hydraulic engine hatch on a boat was suitably propped, eliminating any possibility of the hatch inadvertently closing on someone.

“I hope this incident will raise awareness in the boat building industry to ensure that when working with powered engine hatches, they should always be suitably propped to prevent them from inadvertently closing.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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 and required control measures for health services can be found at:  and
  3. HSE news releases are available at

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