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PILING FIRM WORK SYSTEM CAUSED SEVERED FINGERS

Safe stage at which to lower weight not based on agreed signals

Optima Foundations Ltd, a specialist piling and foundation company, has been fined after a worker severed three fingers during piling operations on a Lincolnshire housing development in February 2012.

He was loading a section of casing to be piled when the rig operator lowered the 500kg weight into his right hand before he could remove it. Three fingers were severed almost to the palm and surgeons were unable to reattach them.

Lincolnshire Magistrates heard (10/07) there was no system of signals or verbal instructions that would indicate that the injured person was in a safe position and ready for the weight to be lowered.

The system of work was simply that the rig operator would watch him and judge when it was appropriate to lower the weight.

Supervisor and workman training inadequate

Optima Foundations Ltd of Broomhouse Lane Industrial Estate, Edlington, Doncaster, was fined a total of £15,000 and ordered to pay a further £8,171 in costs after pleading guilty to single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Giles said:

“There was no safe system of work for the tasks being undertaken by the injured person. Had the weight been properly positioned for the length of tube being inserted, and had there been a recognised and agreed method of communicating that it was safe to receive the weight, then the incident could have avoided completely and he wouldn’t have suffered such life-changing injuries.

Optima Foundations did not provide the injured person and his supervisor with adequate information, instruction and training, and there were defects in the functioning of the controls of the piling machine.”

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