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WHEEL CLEANING EQUIPMENT SEVERED FINGERS

Adapted cleaner on construction site proved dangerously defective

Woodland Environmental Ltd has been prosecuted after a lorry driver suffered a serious hand injury whilst using wheel cleaning equipment on a construction site in London.

His index finger, half of his middle finger and the end of his ring finger were severed on his right hand in the incident at a golf driving range undergoing renovation on 22 July 2010. It was not possible to reattach the fingers and he has been left with permanent injuries.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard (23 January) that he was using a ‘wheel spinner’ to remove mud and debris from vehicles before they accessed public roads. However, the equipment was in poor working order and had been adapted thereby requiring drivers to adopt an unsafe way of using the spinner.

HSE investigators revealed that a rope was held taut to hold a brake lever in position. When the driver attempted to release the rope it caught and severed his fingers. The rope had been in place for several months and had no place on the equipment.

‘Clumsy make-do’ adaptations not acceptable 

Woodland Environmental Ltd, of Hatch Pond Road, Poole, was fined a total of £5,000 and ordered to pay £8,833 in costs after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The condition of the wheel spinner was the responsibility of Woodland Environmental, but their management systems for monitoring equipment and procedures proved inadequate.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Stephron Baker Holmes said:

“Those who provide work equipment need to take effective steps to ensure that it continues to function properly, and to ensure that it is not subject to clumsy, make-do adaptations – as was the case here.

The failures of Woodland Environmental Ltd contributed to a wholly preventable incident that has left the lorry driver with permanent, life-changing injuries.”

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