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March 6, 2014

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Powys County Council fined after worker shatters knee cap at work

 

Powys County Council has been prosecuted after an employee was seriously injured at its public services’ depot in Ystradgynlais while moving large concrete barriers using a telescopic handler. The HSE investigation that followed discovered an unsafe system of work, lack of risk assessment and use of inappropriate equipment.  
 
Andre ‘Dean’ Colamazza, 45, was working with colleagues when the incident happened at the Abercraf depot on 12 June 2012. A 2.5-tonne, three-metre barrier, which had been laid on wooden bearers, toppled over crushing his leg. 
 
He suffered three fractures and a shattered knee cap and was taken to Morriston Hospital in Swansea, where he remained for five weeks. Mr Colamazza, who is from the local area, has made a partial recovery and has since returned to work at the council.
 
Llandrindod Wells Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (5 March) that the incident occurred because the workers moving the barriers were using inappropriate equipment and an unsafe system of work. The investigation found none of the employees asked to move the barriers had been trained to do so and that no risk assessment had been carried out by the council to determine a safe system of work.
 
At the time of the incident Powys County Council owned equipment which was suitable for moving concrete barriers. However, this was kept at the premises of one of the council’s contractors and the team at the Abercraf depot were unaware of its existence.
 
Powys County Council of County Hall, Spa Road, Llandrindod Wells, Powys, was fined a total of £24,000 and ordered to pay £13,528 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 3(1) and 13(2) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
 
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sarah Baldwin-Jones, said: “There is no excuse for employers failing to safeguard their workers. Had Mr Colamazza and his colleagues been properly trained to safely move the concrete barriers, using the correct equipment, and a proper risk assessment carried out by Powys County Council, this incident would not have occurred and Mr Colamazza would not have been seriously injured.”
 
Cllr John Powell, cabinet member responsible for highways, said: “We take matters of health and safety extremely seriously and co-operated fully with the Health and Safety Executive in their investigation. 
 
“The council has accepted full responsibility for the failings relating to the incident. We have reviewed our operations and have taken the necessary steps to prevent another incident of this nature from happening again in the future.”

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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