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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
September 3, 2010

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Builder in need of permanent care following crush injury

A bricklayer has been left paralysed from the chest down after being crushed by a steel beam at a construction site in Yorkshire.

Anton Burrows, 24, was sub-contracted by Strata Homes Yorkshire Ltd to work as a junior member of a bricklaying team during the construction of 75 new homes in Oxley Road, Huddersfield.

On 7 April 2009, he was helping a driver of a telescopic forklift truck to lift a 660-pound steel support beam on to two brick pillars inside one of the properties. Mr Burrows helped guide the beam into place but as the forklift was withdrawing, the driver knocked the wrong lever, which caused the forks to tilt upwards, knocking the beam off the pillars. Mr Burrows walked into the area as this happened, and the beam fell on top of him. He suffered spinal damage, which has left him quadriplegic and in need of ongoing care.

The HSE visited the scene on the same day as the incident and issued a Prohibition Notice, which required all lifting activity to stop until a suitable lifting plan was put in place.

Strata Homes Yorkshire appeared at Huddersfield Magistrates’ Court on 27 August and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 8 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £16,062 in costs.

In mitigation, the company said it had no previous convictions and had cooperated with the HSE’s investigation. It carried out a full assessment of its lifting procedures and identified that it needed to nominate a worker to supervise all lifting operations. Employees carrying out this role have been given training in lifting. It also now ensures that barriers are put in place to stop workers from being able to access the lifting area.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Alasdair Green said: “The terrible injuries sustained in this incident have changed the way of life for Mr Burrows and his family for ever.

“Had the lifting operation been properly planned and supervised, in line with the regulations, the Approved Code of Practice and HSE’s guidance, this devastating incident, which could have very easily killed someone, would have been avoided.”

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