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February 6, 2013

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Inadequately-trained worker trapped under overturned dumper truck

A migrant worker at an Essex horticultural nursery suffered serious leg injuries when the dumper truck he was driving overturned.

Grzegorz Krzyzak was working with two colleagues to replace an old path in a greenhouse at Parkers Nurseries, near Thorpe-Le-Soken.

On 26 October 2011, the 32-year-old was driving an articulated dumper truck to remove the existing path. The vehicle weighed approximately one tonne and was a narrow-based truck with a high lift function. It’s thought the truck was positioned on a slight slope where there was a build-up of spoil, but the vehicle is not designed to operate on a gradient greater than 16 per cent.

As Mr Krzyzak was tipping a load, the truck overbalanced and fell on its side, trapping his right leg underneath it. His colleagues were able to lift the truck and free him before the emergency services arrived.

Mr Krzyzak suffered a double open fracture to his shinbone and multiple fractures in his foot. He has undergone four operations to restructure and repair the bones, which involved pins being inserted,  and he also required skin grafts. He has been unable to return to work and it’s unknown if he will ever regain the full use of his leg.

The HSE’s investigation found Mr Krzyzak had not received adequate training to operate the machine, as he had only been shown how to operate the vehicle for a few minutes. He and a number of his colleagues could not read much English, yet they were issued with an instruction manual that was only written in this language.

HSE inspector Julie Rayner said: “Had the employees received proper training for the operation of the truck then this incident could have been prevented.

“Employers have a duty of care to ensure that drivers are suitably trained, that risks are properly assessed, and that adequate safety measures are in place. Parkers Nurseries failed to do so and, as a result, a young man with his whole life ahead of him may now be left with a permanent disability.”

Parkers Nurseries Ltd appeared at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on 1 February and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.9(1) of PUWER 1998, for failing to provide proper training. It was fined £5000 and ordered to pay £3000 in costs.

In mitigation, the company said it immediately provided adequate training for staff to ensure the work was completed safely. It has also translated all manuals and safety-related documents into their employees’ native languages. It cooperated with the investigation and has no previous safety convictions.

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