Princess Yachts has been fined £600,000 plus more than £9,000 in costs for a health and safety breach which left one of its workers with life-changing injuries.
Mark Gillen, aged 54, was crushed by a staging platform weighing around a tonne which was being moved by hand between the company’s Southyard and Newport Street sites on 9 November 2021.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement lawyer Andy Siddall told Plymouth Magistrates’ Court how on the day, finished mouldings were being moved from the firm’s Southyard site to their one on Newport Street for fit-out.
Staging platforms were used extensively by the company to form a safe and stable work at height platform that surrounds a moulding and later a boat whilst it is the manufacturing stage.
The platform toppled and fell on top of Mark after one of the front wheels hit a divot in the concrete surface.
It took up to ten people to lift the staging off Mark who was airlifted to hospital and was in intensive care for two weeks having suffered 12 broken ribs, bleeds on the brain and irreparable nerve damage.
The court was told he cannot return to manual work and there is still a risk of amputation to his arm.
The HSE investigation found that there was a failure to assess the risks associated with moving staging platforms manually through the external yard. Had this been done, it would have identified the uneven ground as a hazard that required controlling.
The risks could have been further eliminated by prohibiting the manual moving of the platforms and requiring any external movement to be carried out by forklift trucks.
The judge was told Princess Yachts was in the worst financial position it had ever been.
Mr Gillen had worked for the boatbuilder for 26 years.
“Mark Gillen is lucky to be alive,” said HSE inspector Paul Mannell. “The company should have had measures in place to ensure that mobile staging was never pushed through the yard by hand.
“As the measures taken post-accident clearly show, it would have been reasonably practicable to have had them in place when Mr Gillen was injured.
“They were implemented immediately after the accident at no cost to the company.
“The failure to have in place a safe system of work resulted in a life changing injury to a loyal employee who had worked for the company for 26 years.”
Mark’s wife Sarah Gillen said he had been a fit, healthy, strong and determined man before the accident.
“Our worlds were turned upside down the day Mark had the catastrophic crush accident, leaving him with life changing injuries. He simply went to work that morning, and while he was eventually able to come home, our lives will never be the same.
“We are incredibly lucky to still have him with us but there is no denying that the road to recovery has been, and continues to be, extremely difficult and challenging.”
Princess Yachts pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 2 (1).
The incident happened less than a month after Princess Yachts was fined £200,000 for an injury to another worker in 2018.