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Van maker in court over serious safety failings

Date:
23 June 2014

A vehicle manufacturer has been told to pay nearly £180,000 in fines and costs for safety failings after a crane operator suffered severe crush injuries in a lifting operation at the company’s press shop in Luton.

The worker, who does not wish to be named, suffered multiple injuries including fractures to the upper left arm, breastbone, right collarbone and ribs; as well as collapsed lungs.

The incident, on 1 July 2011 at IBC Vehicles Ltd factory in Kimpton Road, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who prosecuted the firm today (23 June).

Luton Crown Court heard the employee had lowered an eight-tonne die block – used to make van parts – into its storage position, and was unhooking it from the crane’s lifting chains when the 50-tonne crane started to move, dragging the block towards the worker and crushing him against another block behind him.

The crane operator was hospitalised for two weeks and has had numerous operations since, but has not been able to return to work.

HSE found a protective frame around the control levers of the crane designed to prevent inadvertent operation was missing. There were also serious shortcomings with the company’s maintenance of lifting equipment and management of lifting operations, including the provision of training and information for crane operators.

The court was told that a number of the ten cranes in the press shop at the factory had previously missed annual examinations by as much as 12 months, and that some failed to have identified maintenance issues acted upon. In addition, the provision of training and information for employees was inadequate to ensure that lifting operations were carried out safely.

IBC Vehicles Ltd, of Kimpton Road, Luton, was fined a total of £155,000 and ordered to pay £22,795 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and two breaches of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

After the case, HSE Inspector Stephen Manley, said:

“There were multiple failings on the part of IBC Vehicles Ltd. Cranes had not been maintained or inspected properly, operators had not been given adequate information or regular training, and lifting operations were not properly planned, including in particular the systems for daily checks on the equipment, to ensure the lifts were then carried out safely.

“Although only a small number of these failings may have contributed towards the incident in July 2011, as a whole they had the potential to create a serious risk to which many employees at the company would have been exposed for some considerable time.”

For more information and guidance about how to prevent injuries when carrying or lifting, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/loler.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. Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.”
  3. Regulation 9(3)a of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that lifting equipment which is exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations is thoroughly examined (i) in the case of lifting equipment for lifting persons or an accessory for lifting, at least every 6 months; (ii) in the case of other lifting equipment, at least every 12 months; or (iii)in either case, in accordance with an examination scheme; and (iv)each time that exceptional circumstances which are liable to jeopardise the safety of the lifting equipment have occurred.”
  4.  Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 states: “Every employer shall ensure that every lifting operation involving lifting equipment is properly planned by a competent person; appropriately supervised; and carried out in a safe manner.”
  5. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk

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