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EXCAVATOR OPERATOR PROSECUTED OVER BUCKET ACCIDENT

Failure to check digger attachment security lands driver in court

An excavator operator has been fined for safety failings after the bucket fell from the machine he was using causing serious injury to a co-worker on a Gloucester building site in November 2011. Dominic Dalton aged 36 suffered head injuries, a broken leg and broken pelvis.

Cheltenham Magistrates heard (15 October) that excavator driver Kevan Fell was working on a drainage system at the new housing estate and needed to change the bucket on the vehicle. He carried out the operation from the cab but failed to test the bucket was secure by shaking it, pressing it on the ground or checking it manually.

When he started using the excavator the bucket immediately became detached striking Mr Dalton who was working nearby.

Prosecution a reminder to all excavator drivers

Mr Fell, of Napton, Warwickshire, was prosecuted for breaching Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined £500 and ordered to pay £1,746 in costs. He was also ordered to pay £3,500 in compensation to Mr Dalton.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Simon Chilcott said:

“Mr Fell is an experienced excavator driver, but on this occasion he failed to check the bucket was properly attached before using it. Mr Dalton could have been killed, and has suffered great pain as a result of a moment of carelessness.

This incident involved a single lock, fully-automatic hitch and comes after a number of recent fatalities involving semi-automatic hitches. I hope today’s prosecution serves as a reminder to all excavator drivers that they must always ensure buckets are secure for the safety of their fellow workers.”

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