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STONE SLAB MOVEMENT LACKED SAFE SYSTEM OF WORK

Director held to account for dangerous unloading operations 

Granite Express Ltd (now in liquidation) and former director Przemyslaw Zalecki have been prosecuted for safety breaches after a workman narrowly escaped being crushed by a load of stone slabs which fell from the side of a lorry during unloading operations in Croydon, on 16 February 2012.

Two workman were standing on the trailer and the packaging supporting the slabs was removed. One man was altering a clamp at the end of a lifting arm attached to the forklift when the slabs began to topple.

Both men leapt from the side of the trailer and one of the men was struck by the falling slabs causing a broken leg and severe bruising. He remained out of work for ten months and did not return to work at Granite Express.

Westminster magistrates heard (27 March) that during a routine inspection in 2010 HSE prohibited use of the lifting arm as “not fit for purpose” and advised Mr Zalecki to carry out risk assessments and devise a safe system of work for unloading stone slabs from vehicles.

However, the fork truck lifting arm was brought back into use without first being serviced or maintained. The operators were not trained and a safe method of work was not implemented.

Fortunate that incident did not result in double fatality

Granite Express Ltd, c/o the liquidator address in Brighton Road, Croydon, was fined a total of £2,000 with £5,000 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act l974.

Przemyslaw Zalecki was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two similar breaches of the Act.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jane Wolfenden said:

“A young man was very seriously injured because of the cavalier attitude to safety by Mr Zalecki and his company, Granite Express Ltd. Bearing in mind the weight of these stone slabs, it is fortunate that this was not a double fatality.

Despite the high risk of serious personal injury involved in the handling and moving of stone slabs being well known in the industry, and despite specific advice to devise a safe system of work for unloading them from a vehicle, the defendants failed to respond.

The attitude towards health and safety was so poor that the company even permitted the continued use of a lifting attachment that had been subject to a prohibition notice.

HSE will not hesitate to take action against either companies or their directors whose approach to the wellbeing of their employees fall so well below accepted standards.”

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