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CHERRY PICKER OVERTURN CAUSED BY POOR PLANNING

Incorrect size of stabiliser leg mats triggered MEWP collapse 

Bradford Council has been prosecuted after a council workman narrowly escaped death when he fell 11m from the cradle of a cherry picker whilst pruning tree branches in July 2012. He suffered multiple injuries including fractures to his spine, collar bone, pelvis and right leg, plus internal injuries that required surgery. 

he court heard that the cherry picker was set up correctly on a compacted path with one man in the extended cradle. When he rotated the boom arm and cradle anti-clockwise the weight distribution of the machine changed and the cherry picker overturned.

'Old' mats and the larger ones which should have been used

HSE found that one vehicle stabiliser foot ‘slid off’ a ground mat and sunk into soft ground at the side of the compacted path. The wrong type of ground mats had been provided and used causing the unbalanced machine to topple without warning.

The council failed to properly plan and organise safety aspects of the tree pruning work. The distance between the stabiliser feet was greater than the width of the path.

Those carrying out work in off-road locations had not been trained to do the work in soft, sloping or uneven ground. 

Vehicle-mounted cherry picker work needs proper planning

Bradford Council was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £9,623 in costs after admitting breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of one of its employees while working at height.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector David Welsh said:

“A young man has suffered life-changing injuries as a result of a number of failures by Bradford Council but we could easily have been dealing with a fatal injury considering the distance of this worker’s fall.

The use of a vehicle-mounted cherry picker for work at height needs to be properly planned and organised. The Council failed to assess the risks of the tree pruning work and provided unsuitable mats for the stabiliser feet, which led to an unsafe system of work being in operation.

A cherry picker is specialist lifting equipment for work at height and the council did not have a lifting plan in place for its general use for tree pruning, despite the dangers of using such lifting equipment being well known.

Work at height remains one of the most significant causes of death and major injuries among workers. All such work must be carefully planned and workers need the correct equipment for each task and adequate supervision.”

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