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.
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