Devonport nuclear sub docker dodged falling weights

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Media captionCCTV shows how dockyard worker Allan Jones narrowly avoided being hit

A navy dockyard worker "could have been killed" when more than five tonnes of metal weights toppled over, a court heard.

The weights narrowly missed Allan Jones at Devonport Royal Dockyard (DRD) in Plymouth last September, said the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

It happened in No 9 dock where a £200m refit of a Royal Navy Trident submarine HMS Vanguard is taking place.

DRD admitted breaching crane regulations.

Image caption HMS Vanguard has been at Devonport's No 9 Dock since 2015

The ONR, which inspects nuclear facilities, said the offence happened during disassembly of an 11.25 tonne stack of four weights used to test cranes lifting nuclear waste.

Graham Morrison for the ONR said there had been a "shortage of qualified staff" and Mr Jones was "in no position to supervise" a colleague.

Mr Jones attached lifting strops on one side of the stack to the top two weights. His colleague had attached strops on the other side to the second and third weights.

When they were lifted the three weights "split apart and toppled over" said Mr Morrison.

Image copyright Crown Copyright/Tam McDonald

CCTV video seen in court showed that Mr Jones "leapt out of the way just in time and luckily escaped injury".

If he had not done so, "he could have been killed", said District Judge Diana Baker.

A "largely generic" risk assessment, "fell far short" of required standards said the ONR.

A lack of exclusion zone meant workers could walk nearby.

"We have an overall picture of falling well below standards," said Mr Morrison.

DRD, a subsidiary of defence contractor Babcock International, had "immense regret" that its "good safety record" had been affected the court heard.

Jonathan Cooper for DRD said there was no blame on Mr Jones or his colleague and the incident "could and should have been prevented".

DRD will be sentenced next month.

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