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RACING STABLES OWNER FAILED TO TRAIN ON DOUBLE DANGER

Willing worker with chainsaw loses livelihood after fragile rooflight fall

Racing stables owner Alan Swinbank has been prosecuted after a workman fell more than 3m through a rooflight in a stable block. The injured man had worked at the stables for 26 years when he was asked by trainer and bloodstock agent Alan Swinbank to cut overhanging trees above an ageing stable block before planned renovation work in July 2010.

Magistrates heard that the injured man, Paul Cussons,  was not trained in chainsaw use or in how to work safely at height. He accessed the roof of the stable block with a chainsaw and whilst sawing through the branches slipped on leaves and fell through a fragile rooflight to the concrete floor below.

Mr Cussons broke both shoulder blades, fractured a rib and punctured a lung and some 16 months after the incident is still suffering from the injuries and unable to return to work. 

Devastating price paid by workman asked to take high risk 

Mr Alan Swinbank, of Thorndale Farm, Melsonby, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,048 in costs.

HSE Inspector Morag Irwin said:

“Mr Cussons was put at unacceptably high risk and has paid the price for being a ‘willing worker’. Thankfully he did not lose his life but he has lost his livelihood and remains badly affected by the trauma of the incident to this day.

We found that he had been using a chainsaw on the farm for some years but given he had no training and had woefully inadequate protective equipment, this tool should not have been available for him to use.

Similarly he had been given no training on how to work at height and had no knowledge of how to plan the work so it was carried out as safely as possible. The combination of a chainsaw and working on a roof almost proved fatal.

Had Mr Swinbank identified the risks involved in the job beforehand, he would have brought in a qualified firm of tree specialists. Sadly he did not and the result was devastating.”

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