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Company prosecuted after worker severed three fingers

Date:
10 July 2013

A specialist piling and foundation company from Doncaster has been fined after a worker severed three fingers while inserting piles at a Lincolnshire building site.

A 27-year-old man from Doncaster, who does not wish to be named, has been left with a permanent injury as a result of the incident at a social housing development in Martin on 6 February 2012.

He was loading a section of casing to be piled when the rig operator lowered the 500kg weight into his right hand before he could remove it. Three fingers were severed almost to the palm and surgeons were unable to reattach them.

His employer, Optima Foundations Ltd, of Edlington, was prosecuted today (10 July) after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified safety failings.

Lincolnshire Magistrates’ Court heard there was no system of signals or verbal instructions that would indicate that the injured person was in a safe position and ready for the weight to be lowered. The system of work was simply that the rig operator would watch him and judge when it was appropriate to lower the weight.

Optima Foundations Ltd of Broomhouse Lane Industrial Estate, Edlington, Doncaster, was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay a further £8,171 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Giles said:

"There was no safe system of work for the tasks being undertaken by the injured person. Had the weight been properly positioned for the length of tube being inserted, and had there been a recognised and agreed method of communicating that it was safe to receive the weight, then the incident could have avoided completely and he wouldn’t have suffered such life-changing injuries.

"Optima Foundations did not provide the injured person and his supervisor with adequate information, instruction and training, and there were defects in the functioning of the controls of the piling machine."

For further information and guidance on working with equipment and machinery, go to http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
  3. Regulation 10(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 requires that: "Every employer shall ensure that an item of work equipment conforms at all times with any essential requirements…"

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