Friday, July 29, 2016

5 meter tall concrete wall collapses kills five workers....

The rise of scrap usage in our plants has come about for a multitude of reasons. Some plants utilize internal recycling, while others find economic savings of purchasing scrap versus purchasing of sows, rsi, etc. This increase in the usage of scrap has forced some plants to store the material onsite depending on their remelt departments need. Through our travels we have found that the storage of scrap varies from plant to plant. Some plants will pile up the scrap in large piles outside. While other will erect large bins or open silos for storage. The walls of the bins are either large concrete blocks, poured concrete walls, or temporary walls. It is these walls that overtime are a hidden hazard in our plants. Sadly, history has shown us numerous incidents where these walls have fallen over resulting in injuries or fatalities. Here is a recent story that emphasizes the hidden danger in the storage of scrap.

The men who were working when a 5 meter concrete structure made of one and a half tonne concrete blocks put up to support a pile of scrap metal collapsed on them at a recycling plant Europe during the week of July 3, 2016.

Paramedics tried to free the men but local police pronounced all five victims dead at the scene of the accident.

Two of the bodies were recovered on that night after painstaking work by emergency crews to retrieve them from underneath tons of metal and concrete rubble. Efforts to recover the three remaining bodies resumed on the following day.

A sixth man was taken to hospital with serious leg injuries.

Two ambulances, an air ambulance, a hazardous area response team and an emergency planning officer were called to the recycling company at 8.45am.

A local Ambulance Service spokesman said: "On arrival, ambulance crews found a wall that had collapsed.

"Sadly, there was nothing that could be done to save the five men who had been working next to it.

"A sixth man was partially trapped by the falling concrete but had managed to get out from the rubble himself.

"He was treated at the scene by ambulance staff and the doctor from the air ambulance for a broken leg before he was taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment."

Detective Superintendent, said a joint Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and police investigation was now being carried out to establish the cause, and warned the process could take weeks.

He added that one line of inquiry would be to find out whether "any issues of negligence or malpractice" may have contributed to the collapse. He said: "We're simply trying to recover the bodies of the men and do it in a way which will help understand exactly how that wall came to fall down.”

The local Fire Service of the scene where five men died after a wall collapsed at a recycling plant. The Fire Service deployed its Technical Rescue Unit (TRU) to the scene equipped with heavy lifting and cutting equipment. Assistant Chief Fire Officer said the incident was “devastating” and added: “Once the police have finished their initial examination of the scene, our absolute priority will be to ensure that the bodies of those who have lost their lives are recovered in the most timely and safe way possible, and with the utmost dignity and respect."

He described the scene as extremely challenging, with a significant tonnage of concrete and metal, and a structure that was still unstable.

A lorry driver was on site when the tragedy happened. He said: "We were reloading the recycling metal into containers which will go into China. I was just about to leave and the guys said 'Stop, nobody go anywhere, stay where you are.'

"They said it was a major accident. One of the workers said the wall had crashed. "I saw one guy lying on the floor and paramedics were putting a mask on him and talking to him.

"They were trying to resuscitate him. The police came and told me to leave the truck and escorted me out."

A government offical, said: "The bodies of the victims must be recovered as quickly as possible, but then there will be some serious questions to answer about what led to the deaths of these workers.”

And in a message on Twitter, Prime Minister said: "Shocked to hear about the tragedy. My thoughts are with the families of those involved."

The Aluminium Plant Safety Blog offers our sincere condolences to the families, friends, and coworkers of the five deceased workers. We pray that the injured worker recovers fully from his injuries and is provided physical and mental health assistance.

These incidents where walls holding back scrap metal collapse occur with some regularity in our industry. Rarely do they result in an injury or fatality. The recycling company made the assumption that the sheer weight of the 1.5 tonne blocks would be sufficient in maintain a sufficient wall. They were wrong. Nevertheless, we have seen this method of storing scrap done throughout our industry. Which means that many companies are operating under a false safety belief. It would be our recommendation that any physical storage of scrap be designed by a licensed engineer and not include the stacking of large concrete blocks. Instead, steel supports and concrete walls should be considered. 

This is the only photo that is appropriate for us to post. Please note the block wall. A similar constructed wall collapsed on the workers.

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