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December 2, 2010

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Eye-injured worker wasn’t given PPE

A teenage worker has been left blinded in one eye while helping to demolish a mill in Greater Manchester.

The 19-year-old was working for Dovestone Contractors Ltd when the incident took place on 8 September at Hyde Mill in Tameside. He was helping to remove wooden floorboards from four floors at the mill, ahead of the building being demolished.

He was using a pickaxe to lever up the floorboards, when he was hit in the eye by a splinter. He was taken to hospital for treatment but, on arrival he had already suffered irreparable damage and has been left permanently blind in one eye.

During its investigation the HSE found that the worker had not been supplied with any eye protection. HSE inspector, Neil Martin, said: “A young man has suffered a life-long, irreversible injury because he wasn’t given safety goggles that would have cost less than £5.

“He hasn’t returned to work in the demolition industry because he’s frightened of losing the sight in his other eye. He may also have difficulty trying to get a driver’s licence. This was a life-changing injury.

“Dovestone Contractors should have known there was a serious risk of its workers being blinded by splinters if they didn’t wear eye protection while using pickaxes to lift floorboards. This is required by law and there is simply no excuse for such a basic health and safety error.”

Dovestone Contractors appeared at Trafford Magistrates’ Court on 1 December and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 4(1) of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 for failing to provide eye protection to employees.

The company has no previous convictions and told the court it carried out a risk assessment before starting the work. The resulting method statement was approved by the site’s principal contractor and CDM coordinator, who, argued Dovestone, both failed to point out that eye protection was needed.

Dovestone also said it accepted PPE should have been provided and it issued protective goggles to staff following the incident to enable the job to be completed safely.

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13 years ago

I’ve no sympathy with the company and they should have the book thrown at them. It can be difficult to get workers to wear PPE and not to supply it in the first place is appalling.

By their own admission Dovestone have said their risk assessment wasn’t suitable and sufficient for not spotting the risk of eye injuries. It isn’t the PC or CDM-C’s responsibility to vet and approve risk assessments and if Dovestone couldn’t spot the hazard perhap their competence is questionable.

13 years ago

The company I work for has a safety glasses policy which is mandatory but the managers & supervisors turn a “blind eye” and flout the requirement at will. Without the support of senior management the safety department is seen as toothless by the workforce and until management and supervisors themselves are prosecuted nothing will ever change.

In this case though the company themselves ignored the law and deserved to be prosecuted after leaving a young workers ignored for life.