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January 16, 2009

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Firm fined after skip door falls on truck driver

A truck driver received head injuries after a door from a rear end-loading skip fell off and struck him on the head during a lifting operation.

Luton Magistrates’ Court, sitting on 7 January, heard that F & R Cawley Ltd had won a contract to collect all recycling waste produced by AEM Ltd, in Stansted. As part of the deal F & R Cawley was required to supply a rear-end loading skip, which had been refurnished by its fabricators. As part of the refurbishment new plastic doors were fitted to the top, and replacement metal doors, each weighing 14 kilos, were fitted to the rear of the skip.

But the fabricators were not provided with written instruction on how to do the work and the rear doors were fitted with both hinges pointing in the same direction. The doors should have been fitted incorrectly with the hinges pointing in opposite directions. This error meant that nothing was securing the doors in place, and they would become unattached if the skip tilted over 90 degrees.

On 7 December 2006, Paul Inskip, a truck driver for F & R Cawley, went to empty the skip at AEM. The skip was overloaded and rolls of carpet were pointing out of the rear doors, preventing them from being closed. Mr Inskip attached lifting chains to the skip, which was then lifted by the truck, so that the refuse could be emptied into the vehicle.

When the skip reached a 90-degree angle the chains were jolted to encourage the rubbish to fall out of the back doors. But because the doors were not properly attached during the skip’s refurbishment, the jolt caused the doors to fall off their hinges. One of the doors fell 15 metres to the ground and the other fell 12 metres and struck Mr Inskip in the head. As a result Mr Inskip temporarily lost feeling in his right arm and received a four-inch gash on his head.

Although the incident occurred in 2006 the HSE only decided to prosecute F & R Cawley in November last year. This was because the investigation took longer to complete than expected, due to a change of inspector during this period.

F & R Cawley pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 for failure to ensure that equipment is suitably maintained, and was fined £3300. It also pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 5 of the MHSWR 1999 and was fined £2600. The company was ordered to pay £2131 in costs to the HSE.

In mitigation, the firm entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity and told the court that this was an isolated incident. As a result of the accident it has now put in place a monitoring system to ensure that all of its skips are checked for the same fault. It has also provided its fabricating staff with written instructions on how to correctly attach the doors.

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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