Three road building firms have been prosecuted after a road worker suffered horrific injuries to his arm when it became entangled inside a machine used for road surfacing.
The three construction companies were ordered to pay more than £400,000 in fines and costs after being found guilty of multiple safety failings.
On the day of the accident in March 2012, the worker was preparing a chip spreader - used for scattering stone chips over asphalt - during road surfacing works on the A1001 in Hatfield, Hertfordshire.
After starting the machine, he had to reposition it to allow stone chips to be loaded. But, to do so he first had to move the mesh safety guard from one side of the machine to the other.
Tragically, as he reached to move the guard, he tripped and fell forward and his left arm became caught in the machine’s rotating drill bit known as an auger, causing it to become entangled.
His resulting injuries were so serious he had to have his arm amputated shortly after the accident and has not been able to return to work since.
A subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work accident investigation revealed the injured worker had never received any formal training on how to correctly use the spreader.
Furthermore, his colleagues had only been given a single evening to familiarise themselves with the machine since starting work six months before the accident and none of the workers had been given an operating manual or any instructions on how to secure the machine’s guards.
In addition, there was no safety system in place to ensure the machine was set up and operated correctly and that its use was restricted to those who had been properly trained.
After pleading guilty to multiple safety breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, Amey LG was fined £150,015, Lafarge Aggregates was fined £175,015 and Ashmac Construction was fined £30,015. Each company was ordered to pay £18,000 costs.
Sadly, this worker has been left with life-changing injuries due to an accident that should never have been allowed to happen.
The risks involved with the use of plant machinery are well known within the construction industry and employers are legally bound to ensure that staff receive the appropriate information, instruction and training they need to safely use the machines they are tasked with operating.
Matthew Tomlinson is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer specialising in work accident compensation claims for Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
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