Companies prosecuted for safety failings after worker crushed

Safety Forward Enforcement Support


Two Derbyshire companies have been fined for safety failings after a worker was crushed whilst dismantling steelwork.

Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday (3 November) that the 47-year-old man from Chesterfield was employed to dismantle surplus steelwork and associated fittings for MMD Mining Machinery Developments Ltd at premises in Cotes Park Lane, Somercotes, when the incident happened on 3 May 2011.

He was employed by Instant Installations Ltd, which had been contracted to supply labour for the dismantling work for MMD Mining Machinery Developments Ltd’s newly-acquired building, next to its existing Somercotes factory.

He and other colleagues had a scissor lift type of mobile elevating work platform and other equipment to remove surplus steelwork.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found both companies failed to plan dismantling work and hadn’t recorded the arrangements for doing the work. MMD Mining Machinery Developments had not notified  HSE of the construction project and only so six weeks after the incident happened.

However, the scissor lift had also been used lower steel beams at height by resting them on the guard rails of the platform. The scissor lift was not for doing this work therefore an appropriate lifting device or crane should have been used.

Having removed single section beams (each typically weighing 430kg) using the scissor lift, the injured person and a colleague worked from the scissor lift and attempted to remove a compound crane beam. This was longer and heavier, weighing in excess of a tonne, twice the amount that the scissor lift is designed to carry.

After removing bolts, keeping the beam in place using a cherry picker, the injured person raised the scissor lift underneath the compound beam without the stabiliser legs deployed.

When the guard rail rested up against the beam, the lift’s alarm sounded to inform the workers the lift was overloaded. Repeated attempts to place the handrail of the platform against the underside of the unfastened compound beam led to the beam becoming unstable and it therefore fell over towards the factory floor.

The compound beam had been positioned centrally on the scissor lift, and the injured person was operating the platform controls from a position between the compound beam and the handrailing.

As the beam toppled towards the factory floor, the injured person was struck by the falling compound beam, causing him serious head and chest crush injuries.

On top of this, the compound beam falling to the ground caused the elevated platform to sway significantly, causing the co-worker fearful of being thrown from the lift platform.

MMD Mining Machinery Developments Ltd was fined £ 26,666 and ordered to pay £8,013 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulations 21, 29(1) and 29(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Instant Installations Ltd, of Station Lane, New Whittington, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,013 after admitting breaching regulation 4(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and regulations 29(1) and 29(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

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