Environment Agency fined over worker fatality

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted and fined the Environment Agency after one of its employees lost his life thanks to a string of health and safety failings.

43-year-old Environment Agency employee Simon Wenn lost his life in December 2010 when working with a colleague on the dredging of an icy watercourse in Cambridge. Mr Wenn was repositioning a tracking mat, laid in order to provide better grip in icy conditions, using a crane when it rotated around and tipped into the watercourse. Mr Wenn was trapped in the cabin and eventually drowned, despite the efforts of emergency services to reach him.

Cambridge Crown Court heard that following an investigation by the HSE, the Environment Agency had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment of the site, as well as assess the impact of the cold weather and the technical requirements of the task Mr Wenn was carrying out.

The HSE also found a lack of planning, health and safety training and supervision, and an unsafe system of work for positioning the tracking mats.

After admitting breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Environment Agency was consequently ordered to pay more than £220,000 in fines and legal costs.