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November 25, 2010

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Untrained worker crushed while unloading delivery

A delivery driver’s legs were crushed during a ‘badly planned’ lifting operation at a waste management facility in London.

The incident took place on 19 January 2008 at McGrath Bros (Waste Control) Ltd’s site at Debden Wharf, Barking. The firm had transported a number of large steel frames to the site from its Hackney depot. The frames, which individually measured 9m by 1.6m by 30cm, had a combined total weight of about 1.4 tonnes.

A driver employed by the company was unloading the steel frames from an articulated lorry with the help of two colleagues. He climbed on the back of the vehicle and attached chains, which were hanging from the jib of a crane, on to the frames.

The crane operator started to lift the load, but on noticing that the chains were not equal in length, he immediately lowered the frames so they were resting on rubble in the back of the lorry. The driver started to remove the chains when the frames slipped and toppled on to him, crushing his legs. He suffered nine fractures to his legs and spent six months in hospital and nursing homes. He was unable to return to work for 14 months owing to his injuries.

The HSE’s investigation found that the driver had not been trained to carry out lifting operations. Consequently the company was issued an Improvement Notice on 19 March 2008, which required it to review its lifting procedures. HSE inspector Kevin Smith said: “This was a very distressing incident which could and should have been avoided. Instead, a man was left with terrible injuries as a result of a badly planned lifting operation.

“The company failed in its most basic duty to protect this worker. This case should serve as a timely reminder to firms that all aspects of work need risk assessments, which examine all of the relevant risks and are communicated to everyone involved. It can ruin lives when these simple precautions are not taken.”

McGrath Bros appeared at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on 17 November and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £7447 in costs.

The company has no previous convictions and has reviewed its lifting procedures and provided training for all operatives who are required to carry out lifting operations. It has introduced a permit-to-work scheme, which requires management to issue a signed permit to employees they are allowed to undertake lifting tasks.

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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