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Company fined after worker hit by concrete beam

Date:
29 January 2015

A construction company has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a concrete beam that fell from a telehandler.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard that M&J Ballantyne Ltd had been contracted to build a house on land in Ketton, Rutland.

Concrete beams for the ground floor had arrived and were stacked around the site. The next day workers began to install them and they were moved from their various locations around the site on a telehandler. The beams were carried either on the forks or using two slings.

On 14 March 2014 a 4.75-metre beam weighing around 300kg was placed into slings which were slung from a single fork, lifted off the ground and rotated through 90 degrees.

One employee, Derek Graham, 51, of Ancrum, Roxburghshire, kept hold of the end of the beam to stop it swinging into the front of the vehicle while a colleague lifted the telehandler forks to raise the beam to shoulder height. The driver started to reverse the telehandler at which point one of the slings slipped off the fork, bringing the beam crashing down on Mr Graham.

He was airlifted to hospital with severe pelvic injuries and spent six weeks in hospital undergoing a series of operations. He remains off work undergoing physiotherapy and may be unable to return to the same work which he has been doing for 22 years.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that a method statement prepared for the lifting of the beams said slings should be securely choked around the beam and lifted on the telehandler using a sling-lifting eye. Mr Graham had not seen this document and his colleague operating the telehandler had not received any formal training. A risk assessment had been carried out but did not identify the need for a specific lifting plan or technical information on the loads to be lifted.

M&J Ballantyne Ltd, of Sheddon Park Road, Kelso, Roxburghshire, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £551 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Tony Mitchell said:

“The lifting of heavy loads where workers are under or in the near vicinity of the suspended load is a high risk activity that can result in serious or even fatal injury. The dangers of lifting operations such as this are well-known and understood in the construction industry. There is ample free guidance available on how to comply with the law and carry out the work safely.

“After the incident, an Improvement Notice was served on the company after it failed to assess the risks and take appropriate action to control and manage them, and prepare a lifting plan. The company complied with this notice and also purchased a suitable lifting attachment to be fitted over the forks which would provide a single lifting point.

“It is a pity they did not consider doing this before a worker suffered a painful but preventable injury.”

Information and guidance on lifting can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/loler.htm

Notes to editors

  1. 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.

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