South West Wales

Tata's £200k fine after staff burnt in Port Talbot

Tata steelworks at Port Talbot Image copyright PA
Image caption The fire started after molten metal fell from a crane and ignited

Steel giant Tata has been fined £200,000 after three crane drivers suffered serious burns when tonnes of molten metal ignited.

Trainee driver Kelvin Watts, 50, of Port Talbot, had been driving a crane, supervised by two trainers, when the metal spilled onto the floor and ignited, Swansea Crown Court heard.

The three men were hurt as they tried to escape at the plant in Port Talbot.

Tata pleaded guilty to a health and safety charge.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company because Tata had failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the workforce at the time of the fire at Tata Strip Products factory on 2 April 2013.

Severe burns

The HSE said Mr Watts was operating an electric overhead crane with two trainers present when he picked up 300 tonnes of molten metal.

However, the ladle of the crane was not fully attached and dislodged, spilling the load onto the floor.

Moments later, fire broke out and reached the cab of the crane, burning the three men as they desperately tried to escape to safety.

Mr Watts suffered severe burns on his head and forearms and spent several days in hospital. He has been unable to return to work.

His two colleagues, Peter Hill and John Bruton, also from Port Talbot, were less severely burnt and although they are back at Tata, neither can face driving the cranes or entering the area where the incident occurred, the HSE added.

Thorough investigation

In addition to the fine, Tata was also told to pay costs of £11,190.

Tata said it had carried out a detailed and thorough investigation into the fire and had taken measures to ensure that a similar incident does not happen again.

"The health and safety of our employees and contractors is our most important priority," the company added.

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