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DISMANTLING WITH MEWP ENDS IN DISASTER

Falling beam caused serious head and chest crush injuries

MMD Mining Machinery Developments Ltd and Instant Installations Ltd have been fined after a worker was crushed whilst dismantling steelwork in May 2011.

Chesterfield Magistrates heard (3 November) that the 47-year-old workman was employed by Instant Installations Ltd which had been contracted to supply labour for the dismantling work for MMD Mining Machinery Developments Ltd. He and others were using a scissor lift and other equipment to remove the steelwork including some of the steel beams on which overhead travelling cranes ran.

HSE investigators found both companies failed to “plan the dismantling work and to record the arrangements for carrying out the work”. MMD Mining Machinery Developments failed to notify HSE of the construction project until six weeks after the incident.

Scissor lift used to lower steelwork

The scissor lift was used to lower steel beams at height by resting them on the guard rails of the platform. The lift was not designed for such work and an appropriate lifting equipment e.g. crane should have been used.

The workman removed single section beams (weighing 430kg) using the scissor lift and proceeded to work from scissor lift and remove a compound crane beam weighing in excess of 1 tonne. This was more than twice the lift safe working load.

The bolts keeping the beam in place were removed and the lift was raised beneath the compound beam without stabiliser legs deployed.

When the guard rail rested up against the beam, the lift’s alarm sounded, informing the workers the lift was overloaded. Repeated attempts to place the handrail of the platform against the underside of the unfastened compound beam led to the beam becoming unstable and it toppled towards the factory floor.

As the beam toppled the injured person was struck by the beam causing him serious head and chest crush injuries. He remains off work.

The compound beam falling to the ground also caused the elevated platform to sway significantly, leaving the co-worker fearful of being thrown from the lift platform.

Completely inadequate equipment

MMD Mining Machinery Developments Ltd was fined £ 26,666 and ordered to pay £8,013 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching regulations 21, 29(1) and 29(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Instant Installations Ltd, of Station Lane, New Whittington, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,013 after admitting breaching regulation 4(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and regulations 29(1) and 29(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Grayam Barnes said:

“This incident, which saw completely inadequate equipment being used to remove heavy steel beams at height, could easily have resulted in a fatality.

It is the duty of employers to ensure that the correct work equipment is provided to carry out the work they have been tasked with.

The failure of MMD Ltd in not notifying this work as a construction project also precluded them the opportunity to seek competent advice for the construction work.

The failure to make the statutory notification meant they then carried the statutory duties of the ‘client’, ‘CDM co-ordinator’ and ‘principal contractor’.

This incident demonstrates they were not competent to undertake those roles.
Had they sourced and properly made such appointments then it is unlikely this incident would have occurred.

This work was not properly planned out by either company and that lack of planning has led to a worker suffering very serious injuries which he is still recovering from more than three years later.”

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