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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
September 3, 2012

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Farm worker suffers serious injury on second day in the job

A worker suffered a fractured skull when a falling steel beam struck him on only his second day working at a farm in Derbyshire.  

The 49-year-old worker was asked to help an experienced engineer install a milking parlour at Brookley Meadows Farm in Thurvaston, Derbyshire, on 5 July last year.

The men were installing four 80kg beams at a height of approximately two metres. There was no written method of work created for the job, so the men devised their own method for lifting the beams. They began installing the first beam by having the new worker hold it above his head. The engineer climbed a stepladder and then took the beam from his colleague and placed it on to a wall bracket.

The engineer rested one end of the beam on the wall bracket, and when both workers tried to lift the opposite end, the beam slipped off the bracket. When the beam hit the floor the vibration caused the engineer to lose his grip on the object, which landed on his colleague’s head. The man suffered a fractured skull and lacerations and was unable to return to work for six weeks owing to his injuries.

The HSE investigated the incident and discovered that no risk assessment had been carried out for the work. On 3 August 2011, the men’s employer, United Milking Systems Ltd, was issued a Prohibition Notice, ordering it to stop carrying out this method of work until a safe system for lifting and manual handling had been put in place.

HSE inspector Edward Walker told SHP that the company should have ensured the work was carried out with proper lifting equipment. He said: “This was an incident waiting to happen, owing to a series of failures by United Milking Systems. The company failed to plan the work properly and failed to assess the risks associated with the task, such as manual handling, or falling objects.

“As a consequence, they didn’t take any steps to reduce the risks through providing appropriate equipment and training. As a result, a worker who was only on his second day with the firm, suffered a painful head injury.”

United Milking Systems appeared at Derby Magistrates’ Court on 30 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £7500 and ordered to pay £5000 in costs.

In mitigation, the company said it has changed the system of work to ensure staff use pedestrian-operated lifting trucks to lift the beams. It also told the court that it had no previous convictions.

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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11 years ago

So, given that this is what they do, how did they get away with such a low fine?

Again a raft of regulatory breaches ends in a Section 2 conviction. And even then the fine is pityful.

And “they now adopt mechanical handling” is offered in mitigation?

A pre-requisite requirement surely?