Whitehaven News

INVESTIGATION BEING HELD INTO SITE ACCIDENT

Friday, January 26, 2001

An investigation is under way at Sellafield into how a worker lost part of two fingers in an accident on the construction site.

But BNFL yesterday categorically denied that the accident was not reported or that the worker was not treated on the site just to make safety figures look healthier.

Another construction site employee has claimed that the seriously injured man was not allowed to go to the Sellafield site surgery.

The man employed by steel erectors William Hare Ltd lost the tips of two of his fingers after having them squashed.

Sellafield spokeswoman Ali Dunlop said: "He was treated in his own company's first-aid facility on the site before being taken to the West Cumberland Hospital, the place most suited to deal with his injuries.

"The most important thing was to get him there as soon as possible. The investigation is looking into how the accident happened and how it was dealt with.

"By law, we have to report injuries to the Health and Safety Executive and that's what happened in this case. Any suggestion we would not report it in order to reduce the accident statistics is just not true."

The allegations were made to The Whitehaven News by a contract site employee giving his name and address. His letter alleges: "In BNFL's quest for reductions in on-site accidents, in order to increase the chances of being able to tender for overseas reprocessing contracts, contracting firms are being pressured into not reporting on-site accidents. This pressure can come in the form of financial penalties, cash deducted from budgets, and firms being not allowed to work on site any longer.

"There may come a time when someone's life may be lost in the rush to bundle them off site the 10 miles or so to hospital and then the whole sorry story of how contractors are being blackmailed into not reporting accidents will be exposed."

"It is all untrue," said Ali Dunlop. "We have to report accidents in three categories - fatalities, major injuries and what we call reportable injuries."