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June 17, 2010

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Young worker hurt in lifting lapse

The manager of an underwater-construction company has been prosecuted after a trainee was injured while moving a large sheet of steel.

Andrew Baillie, general manager at Sub Surface Engineering Ltd, was operating a forklift truck to move part of a support barge, when the incident took place at the firm’s warehouse in Fareham, Hampshire, on 21 April 2008.

The support barge was being built for a company owned by Baillie and he had assumed responsibility for moving it across the warehouse. In order to lift the sheet, Baillie slid a metal box over one of the truck’s raised forks to act as an extension, but did not secure it. He then attached a lifting strop between the extension and the steel sheet. When the plate was being moved, both the plate and the extension slid off the fork and fell on to 17-year old trainee Jonathan Holmes, causing a fracture to his ankle.

An investigation found that Baillie had not been trained to drive a forklift truck. HSE inspector Tracey Cartwright revealed that the Executive decided to prosecute Baillie, rather than his employer, as not only was he responsible for the method of work, but he owned the forklift that was being used. She said: “This case emphasises the responsibility that individual managers and staff have for the health and safety of their colleagues, particularly vulnerable young workers.

“Adequate planning of the lifting operation and the use of suitable equipment would have avoided this injury to a young trainee. It goes without saying that anyone driving a forklift truck should be properly trained.

“Simply spending a little time considering health and safety can stop incidents like this from happening altogether.”

Baillie appeared at Fareham Magistrates’ Court on 9 June and pleaded guilty to contravening s37(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £2500 and ordered to pay costs of £1000.

In mitigation, Baillie said he had no previous convictions and he entered an early guilty plea. He has subsequently attended a forklift driver training course, and bought a suitable extension for the vehicle.

After the court case, Mr Holmes said: “I am happy that the general manager pleaded guilty and that he took responsibility for the incident.”

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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