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November 15, 2013

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Employee breaks leg after scenery collapses


A company that makes scenery for London’s theatres and international fashion shows has been fined after a carpenter was struck by a falling piece of mock-log cabin set.
The 35-year-old worker from Stoke Newington, who does not wish to be named, suffered fractures to his skull and leg when a section of scenery fell from a forklift truck and pinned him to the ground at the Souvenir Scenic Studios workshop in Southwark.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the company had made fibreglass cladding for the mock cabin, which would be fitted on a wheeled base unit made up of three sections. The set was being loaded into a lorry for delivery to the West End’s Adelphi theatre.
The largest section of the wheeled base, which was secured on to a forklift truck by a ratchet strap, was successfully loaded onto the lorry. However, when one of two smaller 300kg sections was put on to the forks it was not secured and when it was lifted the section unbalanced and fell from the forks, landing on top of the worker.
The carpenter made a full recovery and was able to return to work within a month of the incident.
An investigation by the HSE found a lack of planning for the lifting operation, which would have also identified the corrected equipment to use, was the prime cause of the incident.
Souvenir Scenic Studios, of Westwaters, Oakmere, Belmont Business Park, Durham, was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,033 after admitting a single breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. 
Following the hearing, HSE inspector John Crookes said: “This case highlights the need to properly plan and supervise lifting tasks. Safety with forklift trucks is dependent on proper planning and the selection of the right lifting accessories. If the need arises to lift something excessively heavy or awkwardly shaped, firms must ensure their employees don’t go ahead until they have all the correct equipment they need to do it safely.”

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