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November 12, 2008

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Teenage worker crushed by excavator

A Lancashire skip-hire contractor has been fined after a teenage employee was crushed underneath a 13 tonne excavator, at a site which HSE inspectors had visited six months earlier.

Contractor, Peter Marquis, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2 of the HSWA 1974. He was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4632, at Preston Magistrates Court, on 5 November.

The court heard that the incident occurred on 21 December last year at a waste transfer station in Kirkham, Lancashire. Employees were – carrying out a process called ‘totting’ – a method used to sort out recyclable materials from skips – on the floor of the site, while an excavator was being used nearby.

A 17-year-old worker was situated just behind the excavator, when the excavator moved backwards trapping him underneath and crushing him from his ankle all the way up to his pelvis.

The victim suffered a broken femur and pelvis, and received internal abdominal injuries. As a result he has undergone many hours of surgery and is still in need of further operations. He has been unable to return to work since the incident.

Prosecuting inspector, Stephen Garsed, confirmed that two other HSE inspectors had visited the site six months before the accident, but had failed to highlight the possible problems that the system of work might create.

In mitigation Mr Marquis accepted full responsibility for the accident but claimed he had done everything possible to reduce the likelihood of accidents occurring. He also argued that the HSE had failed to point out the risks during its earlier site visit.

Inspector Garsed told SHP: “This incident occurred because Mr Marquis and his staff did not see the risk of people working close to machines. There should have been proper segregation of pedestrian workers from moving vehicles.

“The site could have put in place both physical and temporal segregation. If this had happened then the young employee would not have received these appallingly life-changing injuries.”

 

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