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MAJOR HIGHWAYS MAINTENANCE FIRMS PROSECUTED

Fatal fall from ‘cherry picker’ caused by lack of checks and maintenance 

Amey Infrastructure Services Ltd and Mouchel Parkman Services Ltd have been fined a total of £60,000 following the death of a worker who fell from a cherry picker on a Liverpool dual carriageway in August 2006.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that Peter Cole from Lymm was replacing lights on the central reservation when the cherry picker lifting arm collapsed. He fell nearly eight metres and landed on the back of the vehicle and died from his injuries in hospital later that day.

HSE investigators found the companies lacked adequate systems for checking and maintaining the plant when it was first delivered and throughout the hire period. It required repairs on several occasions whilst on hire and was subjected to heavy use in all weather conditions for almost a decade.

Checking and maintenance systems were inadequate

The brother of the deceased said:

“He was a decent man and would have trusted that the cherry picker was safe when he climbed into it. It’s unbelievable that it wasn’t regularly checked and tested, and instead was just put out into use. It happened to be him in that cherry picker on that day but it could have been anyone.”

Amey Infrastructure pleaded guilty to breaching HSW Act Section 2(1) by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £32,500 in prosecution costs. Mouchel Parkman pleaded guilty to breaching HSW Act Section 3(1) for failing to ensure Mr Cole’s safety and was fined £30,000 with costs of £32,500.

The investigating inspector at HSE, Dave Guyers, added:

“Both companies had a legal duty to ensure Mr Cole remained safe but their checking and maintenance systems were inadequate and thus allowed him to use a cherry picker that was in a poor condition.

Heavy usage and a regular repair record demand that checking and maintenance procedures are carried out thoroughly. This is vital with cherry pickers which place users at great risk when working at height.

All companies must have effective checking and maintenance systems in place and act upon the findings from them. Ageing machinery should be maintained properly and responsibly – not doing so increases the likelihood of this sort of incident.”

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