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July 6, 2009

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Firm fined GBP 35k after labourer loses leg

A County Londonderry formwork contractor has been fined £35,000 for

failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work following an

incident at a landfill site in Mallusk, near Belfast, which resulted in

a worker losing a leg.

Belfast Crown Court heard on 26 June that general labourer John Bassett, who was employed by PB Formwork, was seriously injured when the dumper truck he was driving on 28 February 2008 overturned on a slope because its load capacity had been exceeded. Mr Bassett fell out of the cab and the truck landed on his legs. He suffered serious injuries, including the loss of his right leg.

The court was told that PB Formwork had not provided Mr Bassett with sufficient training or instruction, and no account had been taken of the incline of the haul road on which Mr Bassett had been driving his truck.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching s4(2)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978 and was fined £35,000, plus full HSENI costs of £2539.

In sentencing the company Judge Burgess said: “This was an accident waiting to happen. It was an accident that was patently avoidable.”

Describing the injuries suffered by Mr Bassett as “devastating”, the judge added: “Such consequences and the avoidance of such consequences lie at the heart of this legislation, that is to achieve a safe environment in the workplace for those who work there.”

Louis Burns, head of the HSENI’s major investigation team, commented: “It is vital that all companies properly identify and address hazards within the workplace, and implement systems to minimise and control risks. These systems need to be communicated to the workforce, implemented, maintained, and updated when necessary.”

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