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June 1, 2009

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Worker was inexperienced in driving dumper

A demolition site labourer suffered crush injuries to his foot after becoming trapped underneath an overturned skip-loading dumper.

Maidenhead Magistrates’ Court heard that the incident took place on 21 May 2008 at a construction site in Warfield, Berkshire, where work was being carried out to demolish a lean-to building and break up a barn floor. 

The labourer was operating a skip-loading dumper to transfer waste material to a rubble pile in the yard. He was asked to operate the vehicle even though he had been given no formal training. He used the dumper throughout the day without encountering a problem. But on one occasion, as he was tipping rubble from the skip of the dumper, his foot slipped off the clutch, causing the machine to advance and start to mount the pile of rubble. The vehicle then became unstable and overturned, trapping him beneath it by his foot.

He was freed by colleagues and taken to hospital for treatment for multiple fractures to his ankle. His lower leg was put in plaster and, as a result, he was unable to return to work for 12 weeks.

His employer, Shorts Group Ltd, appeared in court on 22 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. The company was fined £5000 and ordered to pay £1772 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm entered an early guilty plea and said it had no previous convictions. It has subsequently conducted a thorough review of its training and assessment procedures, to ensure that all employees receive appropriate training.

HSE inspector, Karen Morris, told SHP: “This incident may have been avoided if the company had provided appropriate information, instruction and training to the operator involved. His lack of experience and competence was undoubtedly a contributory factor to this incident, which in my view was foreseeable and preventable.”

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