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August 13, 2010

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Quarry company fined GBP 96k for digger death

A worker was crushed to death while working underneath an inadequately secured mechanical digger at a quarry in Scotland.

On 21 November 2008, mobile-plant fitter Arthur Jamieson, 58, was removing the transmission from an excavator, when the incident took place at Parkmore Quarry, Dufftown, Abelour.

Mr Jamieson had not previously carried out this task and was not familiar with the vehicle. He did not receive any information about how to carry out the work from his employer, Leiths Scotland Ltd, and was left to create a method of raising and supporting the five-and-a-half tonne excavator above the ground.

He created a ramp out of steel beams, on which he positioned the vehicle, but failed to place adequate supports behind the rear wheels. He was working underneath the digger when it rolled backwards, crushing his chest. He died at the scene and his body was discovered by colleagues.

The HSE issued a Prohibition Notice on 24 November 2008, which ordered the company to stop carrying out work underneath vehicles until a safe system of work was put in place.

HSE inspector Norman Buchanan said: “This tragic incident should have been avoided. Although Arthur Jamieson was undoubtedly an experienced mobile-plant fitter, he had not previously carried out this particular task for this firm. He should have received adequate information, training and supervision from his employer, which Leiths did not provide.

“It is wholly unacceptable that his employer left him unsupervised to devise his own means of working on such a risky repair job.”

Leiths Scotland appeared at Elgin Sheriff Court on 9 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £96,000. No costs are awarded in Scotland.

The company has no previous related convictions and it it has complied with the Prohibition Notice. The company told the court that it now ensures that only workers who have experience working with excavators are permitted to make repairs to the vehicles. It has also provided tools to enable vehicles to be lifted safely, and has put procedures in place to supervise the work.

Inspector Buchanan added: “Had Mr Jamieson been adequately supervised, he would not have been able to start working underneath the digger when it was inadequately secured at the rear and therefore able to move from its position on the ramp. As a result, his death could have been prevented.”

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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