Sellafield Ltd Recieve £400K Fine After Worker Was Injured From 3m Fall

By Rachael Grealish

Sellafield Ltd received a £400,000 fine after a worker sustained back injuries due to a 3 metre from a scaffolding ladder.

According to Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the organisation that prepared the prosecution, the company attended Carlisle Magistrates Court yesterday, Monday, March 6, where it was ruled they ruled they must pay a fine of £400,000 and pay prosecution costs of £29,210.64.

The ONR investigation found the was carrying out repair work ‘in a low active cell, or chamber, at the Magnox Reprocessing Facility’ when the accident took place.

Sellafield Ltd Worker Falls 3m

While being tasked with fixing a leaking pipeline, on October 12, 2021, two workers entered the slippery chamber, during which they had to climb a scaffolding ladder while carrying heavy equipment.

However, on the way back down one worker fell from the ladder and suffered a fall of approximately 10 feet (3 metres) that left him with ‘life-changing injuries’.

magnox reprocessing plant
Magnox at Sellafield, Cumbria. Credit: Sellafield Ltd

According to the ONR findings, the Sellafield worker sustained ‘fractures to his vertebrae, with injuries that have been described as life-changing with his mobility still significantly affected and him not yet having returned to work’.

Sellafield Ltd ‘pleaded guilty’ and ‘co-operated fully’

At Carlisle Magistrates Court, Sellafield Ltd pleaded guilty to an offence under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the health and safety of its employees, in relation to the risks arising whilst undertaking maintenance and repair work.

Following the outcome Paul Dicks, ONR’s Director of Regulation – Sellafield, Decommissioning Fuel and Waste, said: “We welcome today’s outcome which recognises that Sellafield Ltd fell short in its duty to protect a worker.

“This accident was entirely avoidable. Nobody should go to work and not come home in a fit and healthy state. A thorough investigation by the Office for Nuclear Regulation identified multiple and significant failings by Sellafield Ltd during a prolonged period.”

ONR’s investigation revealed a series of significant failings to provide a safe system of work and it was found ‘the proposed repair method was repeatedly changed and the potential risks to workers were not suitably considered’.

Mr Dicks went on to say: “Sellafield Ltd co-operated fully with the Office for Nuclear Regulation during this investigation and we welcome their prompt guilty plea.

“The safety of workers at nuclear facilities remains paramount, and as an independent regulator, we want to see continuing improvements in conventional health and safety on the site. Through our inspectors’ regular scrutiny, we will continue to hold the UK nuclear industry to account in order to protect workers and the public.”

Sellafield Ltd ‘Deeply Regret’ Incident

Martin Chown, Sellafield Ltd chief executive, today, Tuesday, March 7, told The Herdwick News: “We deeply regret this incident, and we acknowledge that on this occasion we fell short in our legal duty to protect the safety of our employee.

“We recognise the seriousness of this matter, as reflected in our guilty plea, and our full cooperation with ONR, including sharing the findings of our internal investigation.

“We have incorporated lessons learned from this incident to improve our performance in this area and to prevent a recurrence.

“We will continue to work hard to ensure that that safety and security at Sellafield is the very best it can be.”