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PLANT HIRE FIRM FAILED TO DEVISE SAFE SYSTEM

Mini-digger ran over workman during refurbishment of plant

One Call Hire Ltd has been fined for safety failings after an employee was struck and injured by a reversing mini-digger at a North London depot.

The 60-year-old workman fractured a bone just below his knee and suffered extensive tissue damage to his foot and ankle in the incident in London on 18 December 2012.

The company, which has eight depots across the UK, was prosecuted (12 February) by HSE after an investigation identified concerns with an unsafe system of work.

Westminster Magistrates heard that the injured worker was part of a team preparing a mini-digger for shipment to Australia, and were giving the machine a final clean when machine was inadvertently put into reverse and struck the workman.

Whilst others tried to release him, the vehicle was again reversed, causing additional injuries. A second workman had a lucky escape because he was under the vehicle at the time, but managed to move away just in time.

HSE inspectors established there was no agreed system of work for the refurbishment and cleaning activity, and the vehicle should have been isolated to ensure that it could not move whilst persons were at risk.

The court was told that the workers devised their own system of work that was inherently unsafe, and that none of them had received any formal training.

Measures to isolate power would have avoided injury

One Call Hire Ltd, of Crown Road, Enfield, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,036 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Chris Tilley said:

“It is clear that there was no safe system of work in place for work in and around the digger, either of a formal or informal nature.

Had the work been properly assessed, and measures taken to isolate power to the engine and make it safe, then the worker could have avoided injury.

One Call Hire Ltd has accepted its failings in this regard, and we hope this prosecution sends a clear message to others.”

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