A contractor in Canada has been fined £85,000 after one of its operatives was killed while using water jetting equipment to clean catch pits.
The company pleaded guilty to the offence which happened after it was commissioned to clean the pre-cast concrete tanks at a property in the province of Ontario in 2017.
Two operatives had been working on the project, using a jetting and vacuumation tanker to clean and empty the tanks at several locations on the site.
One of the operatives had been operating a water jetting hose using a hand-held remote-control device when he lost control of it. The water jet hit him in the neck, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. The other operative suffered minor injuries.
The court was told that industry guidelines in Canada recommend that operator-controlled trigger switches, which automatically turned off the system if not continuously squeezed, should be fitted to jetting hoses.
The company had made these automatic shut-off devices available. However, there was no policy or instruction for using them – and they were not being used during this tank cleaning project.
In its judgement, the court said the company had failed to take reasonable precautions, in line with Canadian health and safety legislation, to ensure the safety of its operatives.
David Kennedy, Director of the Water Jetting Association, said: “This case makes clear the responsibility of an employer to recognise and take account of the potential hazards faced by employees.
“They have a duty to risk assess the task and agree a safe system of work that protects personnel and others in the vicinity. It is telling that the most experienced operative on the site was the person sadly killed.
“If a safe system of work is not in place, and if the task is not adequately risk assessed at the point of works, to eliminate or adequately mitigate hazards, such incidents are more likely to occur, no matter how experienced operatives are.”
The WJA has developed two Codes of Practice – the Blue Code for high pressure water jetting, and the Red Code for Water Jetting in Drains and Sewers – designed to define quality and safety standards in the water jetting industry in the UK.
These codes underpin the City & Guilds-accredited water jetting training provided by the association via WJA-registered training companies and delivered by WJA-approved instructors.
This includes an entry-level one-day class-based Water Jetting Safety Awareness course. The WJA also offers a range of one-day practical hands-on water jetting training courses: Surface Preparation (SP), Tube and Pipe Cleaning (TP), Hydrodemolition (HD) and Drain and Sewer Cleaning (DS).
For more information about WJA membership and training, Call: 020 8320 1090. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.