Company fined after worker’s legs crushed

A marine demolition company was fined £42,000 after an incident that resulted in a worker subsequently having his legs amputated.

Lee Pownall was trapped by his legs when a section of an old metal barge that he was assisting to dismantle in a dry dock beside the River Thames, in Erith, Kent, fell onto him. He has since had both legs amputated above the knee.

Southwark Crown Court heard the barge was being cut into sections by two workers, including Mr Pownall, in November 2013. They were undertaking separate cuts in the same section of the barge. One worker finished making a cut to his section and it broke apart. This led to the section Mr Pownall was working on falling onto him.

Secure Measures Limited, of Helmet Row, London, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £42,000 and must pay £8,000 costs.

After the hearing, investigating HSE inspector Matt Raine said:

“Mr Pownall sustained life-changing injuries but he could easily have been killed in this entirely foreseeable incident, as could the other worker involved. Secure Measures Limited had identified how it could control the risk associated with this type of work, but none of the control measures were followed. I would hope this HSE prosecution, and the fine imposed by the court, will be a reminder to employers to ensure that work is always planned, risks are identified and where proportionate measures are identified that can reduce the risk, these are followed.”

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. Further HSE news releases are available at

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