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Two engineering firms sentenced after worker’s hand crushed

Date:
5 June 2014

Two engineering businesses have been fined for safety failings after a worker’s hand was crushed while unloading steel beams.

Kevin Bradley, then aged 54, had delivered the beams to Falburn Engineering Ltd’s premises in Plean, Stirling, on 6 October 2010. He was working with a Falburn forklift truck driver on the unloading operation when he was struck by a falling beam.

Stirling Sheriff Court was told today (5 June) that Mr Bradley, an HGV driver for Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd, trading as Skerrysteel Services, was standing on the flatbed trailer when the forklift began to raise the second bundle.

As it was lifted, the steel became unstable and rolled away from the forklift truck. The metal strapping broke and the beams separated, falling towards Mr Bradley. He attempted to jump out of the way but was hit by one of the beams which trapped his feet against the flatbed trailer. Mr Bradley fell towards the ground with his feet still trapped and put his right hand down to break his fall.

All four fingers on his right hand were shattered and he had a laceration across his palm which damaged the nerves, exposed the tendons and cut the blood supply to his fingers. He underwent a 12-hour emergency operation to save and rebuild his right hand but he has yet to regain sufficient function in his right hand to return to work as an HGV driver and may never do so.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) determined it would have been good practice to sling the load using a truck fitted with a hook attachment, and the beams should not have been lifted until Mr Bradley had returned to the ground and was in a safe position. Both companies had compromised safety by neglecting to fully assess the risks involved in unloading the steel beams.

The investigation found Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd failed to:

  • make a sufficient assessment of the risks to employees involved in the delivery and unloading of steel;
  • provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the safety of workers delivering and unloading steel;
  • liaise with Falburn Engineering Ltd to ensure a safe system of work for unloading steel was in place and that the driver’s role had been agreed.

HSE concluded that Falburn Engineering Ltd had failed to:

  •  make a sufficient assessment of the risks to visiting workers during unloading of steel;
  • liaise with Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd to ensure a safe system of work for unloading steel was in place and that the driver’s role had been agreed.

Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd, of Whistleberry Industrial Estate, Whistleberry Road, Hamilton, was fined £16,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974.

Falburn Engineering Ltd, of Unit 1, Plean Industrial Estate, Plean, Stirling, was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the same Act.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Michelle Gillies, said:

“This was an entirely avoidable incident. The dangers associated with the delivery and unloading of steel, in particular the risks associated with the use of a forklift to carry out the task and the risk of being struck by falling loads, are well-known in the industry and readily foreseeable.

“It is clear there was no meaningful discussion between Falburn Engineering Ltd and Hugh Logan Plant and Engineering Services Ltd about how the delivery would be unloaded, by whom, and using what equipment.

“In effect, the employee who agreed to unload the delivery and Mr Bradley were left to their own devices to undertake the task in whatever way they thought most appropriate. Unfortunately, the method used on the day was far from safe and Mr Bradley was seriously injured as a result.”

Guidance on the safe handling of steel and other metal stock can be downloaded from the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg246.htm

Notes to Editors:

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) 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. In Scotland the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service has sole responsibility for the raising of criminal proceedings for breaches of health and safety legislation
  3. Section 2 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.”
  4. Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  5. HSE news releases are available at press.hse.gov.uk

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