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    LOADER DRIVER STRUCK BY OWN VEHICLE BUCKET

    Water firm fined after faulty safety device put operator in intensive care

    Northumbrian Water has been ordered to pay more than £34k in fines and prosecution costs following the potentially fatal crushing of the operator of a skid steer loader in Norfolk.

    Operator accidentally operates bucket

    Northumbrian Water has been fined £17k and ordered to pay full costs of over £17k following an incident on 12 March 2008, when employee Robert Ayers, 38, was crushed between the loading bucket and cab of a construction vehicle. He spent three days in intensive care.

    Mr Ayers was driving a Bobcat skid steer loader at the Lound Water treatment works. He dismounted the vehicle with the engine running and as he was getting back into the cab, he slipped and pressed the control to raise the bucket.

    He was then trapped between the cab and the bucket, suffering crush injuries and permanent scarring.

    Investigation finds faulty safety device

    The device that stops the bucket being raised unless there is someone in the driving seat of the vehicle was found to be faulty. Mr Ayers and other employees had also not received adequate training in the use of the vehicle.

    Investigating HSE Inspector, Richard Hines said:

    “Mr Ayers is very lucky to have escaped with his life from this incident because similar incidents with other companies have resulted in employees being crushed to death. It was a simple example of faulty equipment and insufficient training creating a potential disaster.

    “This should serve as a serious warning to all companies that they must ensure the health and safety of their work force – it is their responsibility. HSE will not hesitate to take action against those who fall short of their duty – and the legal requirements – in such a way.”

    Comment

    HSE issued a safety alert regarding skid steer loader safety devices in 2009. The bulletin concerned a fatality where an operator was crushed by the lift arm of a skid-steer loader. The danger arose from defective interlocks combined with unsafe operating practices.

    The bulletin “stressed the importance of reviewing and following manufacturer’s instructions, and having properly trained operators as well as the need to test, inspect and maintain interlocks.” Advice that is equally relevant to seat interlocks.

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