Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
September 30, 2011

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

Worker fell eight feet out of telehandler bucket

A Shetland engineering company has admitted failing to ensure its workers followed a planned safe system of work during the dismantling of a redundant aerial mast.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard that Ness Engineering Ltd had been contracted to remove a former RAF remote radar head at Unst, Shetland. On 23 August 2010, David Thomson was part of a team dismantling the mast. The 22-year-old and his colleagues were unbolting pieces of metal and wood from inside the mast and loading them into a telehandler with a bucket attachment, so the pieces could be lowered to the ground.

While they were carrying out the work they has difficulty removing one piece of metal that they could not fully reach from inside the mast. They decided to stand inside the bucket so they could be lifted up by the telehandler to reach the piece of metal. Once it was removed they balanced the metal on the edge of the bucket and began being lowered to the ground.

When they were around eight feet from the ground, the metal slipped and a small piece of metal caught the back of Mr Thomson’s boiler suit and catapulted him out of the bucket. He suffered a fractured vertebra in his back and broke his left arm and both thumbs. He was unable to return to work for nine weeks owing to his injuries.

The HSE’s investigation found that the company had planned a safe system of work but this did not include accessing the mast from the outside. HSE inspector Alan MacKinnon told SHP that the firm failed to monitor the work properly. He said: “The bucket attachment on the telehandler was not suitable for transporting people and as soon as Ness Engineering allowed their employees to be lifted up in it, the risk assessment they had carried out became meaningless.

“It was entirely foreseeable that there was a risk of either the men, or the metal falling from the bucket, yet the company did nothing to ensure they had the right equipment on site to allow Mr Thomson and his colleagues to carry out their work safely.”

Ness Engineering appeared in court on 21 September and pleaded guilty to breaching s2 of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £26,700 and no costs were awarded, as the case was heard in Scotland.

Safety & Health Podcast: Listen now

Exclusive interviews, the very latest news and reports from the health and safety frontline and in-depth examinations of the biggest issues facing the profession today. You'll find all that and more in the Safety & Health Podcast from SHP.

Find us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Google Podcasts, subscribe and join the conversation today.

Safety & Health Podcast
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
7 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Admin
Admin
10 years ago

From personal experience I can tell you that this sort of thing happens daily. Those responsible for sending the men to do the job will allocate the barest minimum manpower and equipment looking purely at the bottom line – how much will this cost?
And I can also tell you that if the men return to base without having completed the job, the explanantion of the absence of suitable equipment or a SSOW will not be accepted as reason

Bobwallace5
Bobwallace5
10 years ago

What about the person supervising this activity? Why is there nothing regarding him? Although details are sparse, I doubt management were attending this task, so the supervisor would be the reposnsible person and should also have taken some blame.
It is difficult to understand why employees are taking these risks, when there has been extensive advertisement regarding the hazards associated with working from improvised platforms. The “it will never happen to me” syndrome again!

Chandera1
Chandera1
10 years ago

i have come across number of such cases where workers have travelled in buckets to reach spots located at heights particularly during building constgructions. Buckets are used for transporting cement or sand to upper floors where construction is going on. In such cases cranes or elevators are not used. Sometimes workeres take a short cut and travel inbuckets. Sometimes they trip over and fall out of the bucketand many times ropes chains hoilding the bucket breaak .Negligence unsafeact is cause

Colin
Colin
10 years ago

Whilst in no way condoning what happened, I think it is relevant to explain the remoteness of the site. To get back to their base to get alternate equipment involves two ferry journeys and and some 100 plus miles each way. Accordingly, I suspect it was felt that trying to “make do” would save a full day.
As I said, not condoning the incident, but the report is scanty in incidental information.

Mowak1
Mowak1
10 years ago

i agree with your comments on the geographical factors involved and the limitations on resources (time,etc) -once again although the risk was deemed as forseeable was this the case during ther initial assessment by the company?

Oliverf
Oliverf
10 years ago

The worker was clearly misusing a piece of equipment when the accident occurred. Furthermore, the driver’s training should be sufficient for him to know that this is not permissible! The company had a safe system of work in place, but cannot be expected to allow for misuse of equipment or workers not acting in accordance with training. I think if the HSE should prosecute more workers who are in breach of H&S law.

Ray
Ray
10 years ago

The telehandler operator should have known better than to allow these workers to access the inside of the bucket. A clear violation of safety procedures and an opportunity for the authorities to prosecute the operator and/or the work’s supervisor. Dangerous activities are just that, regardless of the remoteness of the location.