‘Cable ties’ used on excavator controls to clean with tracks in motion
A plant hire company has been fined after a worker was crushed by a two-and-half tonne excavator during an unsafe cleaning operation. The 40-year-old suffered four fractures to his pelvis in the incident in Bulwell, Notts on 3 July 2012.
Nottingham Magistrates heard (23 September) that the injured worker was cleaning an excavator. The excavator was positioned over a wash bay and raised by its hydraulic excavator arm and shovel blade, allowing the caterpillar tracks to turn while they were sprayed with a jet washer.
‘Cable ties’ were used to lock the excavator controls in the on position and they were configured so that the tracks could spin while the cab was empty. As the worker was cleaning near the excavator arm his foot became trapped under the moving track.
A colleague hit two side levers in the cab in a bid to help him escape which caused the vehicle to lurch forwards knocking him backwards before pinning and trapping him. The workman was rescued after other colleagues used jacks to lift the vehicle.
HSE found there was no formal safe system of work for the cleaning task. The court was told it was unsafe to work either beneath or immediately adjacent to an excavator when supported by the bucket on the excavator arm and the shovel blade.
Unsafe method for excavator cleaning was potential fatal
L&M Glazing Ltd of Hucknall Lane, Bulwell, Nottingham, was fined £11,000 and ordered to pay £6,400 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Butter said:
“The injured employee was put in serious danger and could have been killed because there was no safe method for cleaning the excavator.
The machine manufacturer recommends jack-stands are used to hold it in place, and not to service or adjust the machine while the engine is running.
That guidance was clearly ignored, and to have the engine running was both dangerous and unnecessary. Simply cleaning the tracks while the vehicle is stationary, then moving it to expose the unclean tracks and stopping it, before continuing to clean it, would have be the safest and simplest way of doing the work.
L&M Glazing failed to manage the risks to its employees. Employers who neglect their duty to protect workers will continue to be held to account where they fail to do so.”