Devonport Royal Dockyard and Kaefer Limited Face Charges Under Health and Safety Act
A scaffolder’s serious injury on board the Royal Navy ship HMS Bulwark has resulted in charges against Devonport Royal Dockyard and Kaefer Limited. The incident, which occurred on April 11, 2023, has led to legal proceedings under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as announced by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).
The incident unfolded at the Devonport Royal Dockyard in Plymouth, where the Royal Navy ship HMS Bulwark was undergoing maintenance. A scaffolder working on the warship suffered severe injuries after falling approximately 15 feet (4.5 meters) into a tank during his duties.
The ONR, the United Kingdom’s independent nuclear regulator, initiated an investigation into the incident due to the location of the accident.
Although HMS Bulwark had no nuclear components on board, the fall transpired within a nuclear-licensed site, prompting the regulatory body to take action.
The emergency response to the incident was swift, with firefighters, paramedics, a Hazardous Area Response Team, and a critical care car rushing to the scene.
The Devonport Royal Dockyard, which is a part of Babcock, and Kaefer Limited, the scaffolding firm involved in the work, have both been charged in connection with the incident. While Babcock operates on-site as one of the dockyard’s operators, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the court case does not pertain to them.
In response to the charges, Babcock emphasized its commitment to the safety of all personnel working on their sites, stating that health and safety was an “absolute priority.” However, the company refrained from making further comments, citing ongoing legal proceedings.
Kaefer Limited, headquartered in Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, echoed this sentiment, asserting that the safety of its employees was its foremost concern. The company fully cooperates with authorities in the ongoing investigation and disclosed that it had conducted its own internal investigations into the incident.
The legal proceedings stemming from the scaffolder’s fall are set to commence with the first hearing scheduled at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on March 27, 2024. The outcome of the court case will determine the accountability and repercussions for the parties involved in this unfortunate incident aboard HMS Bulwark.