£100k Fine for Worker’s Skull Fracture

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Introduction


A haulage firm employee was injured when a piece of metal ducting, six metres long and weighing 28kg, fell from the top deck of the trailer, hitting him on the head. The blow caused serious, life changing injuries, including a fractured skull.

Investigation & Breaches

• Warwick Crown Court heard that the Maxi Haulage Limited employee was injured at a site in Cape Road, Warwick. The HSE investigation into the incident on 3 February 2015 found that this site had not implemented safe systems of work for the unloading of trailers at depots, produced by Maxi Haulage.

• It also found as part of the investigation that employees were not properly informed about pedestrian and vehicle segregation rules, an essential part of any haulage business and that little was done about the work not being followed.

Sentence

• Maxi Haulage Limited, of Elliott House, Kilwinning Road, Irvine, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £53,401.

• Speaking after the case HSE Inspector Mark Austin said:

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing suitable control measures and safe working practices. The company itself had identified and easily implemented the necessary measures after this tragic event.

Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

Safety Smart Comment:

• Although this accident occurred in the haulage industry, falling debris is an issue that a number of industries need to be aware of, particularly the construction industry.

• There are frequently cases before the courts involving construction sites, for example, where a worker has decided to take a short cut and throw an item to a skip below, rather than to use the proper waste disposal system that has been put into place. Another common scenario that the courts deal with is falling debris because a building hasn’t been properly segregated when it is being refurbished.

• An assessment should always be made of the possibility of falling debris on a building site and if there is a possibility, then the area below must be made into an exclusion zone.

• The consequences for the injured party in this case were extremely serious, his skull was fractured. The financial impact on this firm is also severe, a fine of £100,000 is bound to adversely effect the company’s ability to continue trading.

• HSE guidance regarding falling debris is as follows:

Workers and passers-by can be injured by the premature and uncontrolled collapse of structures, and by flying debris. A safe system of work is one that keeps people as far as possible from the risks.

This may include:
• establishing exclusion zones and hard-hat areas, clearly marked and with barriers or hoardings if necessary
• covered walkways
• using high-reach machines
• reinforcing machine cabs so that drivers are not injured
• raining and supervising site workers.

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