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TELEHANDLER DANGEROUSLY USED AS ‘CRANE’

Beam fell from sling and crashed on workman steadying suspended load

M&J Ballantyne Ltd has been fined after a worker suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a concrete beam which fell from a telehandler  on a homes project in Rutland on 14th March 2014.

Concrete beams for the ground floor were stacked around the site and moved to the installation locations on either the telehandler forks or suspended by slings on from the forks.

A 4.75-metre beam weighing some 300kg was placed into slings on a single fork, lifted from the ground and rotated through 90 degrees. Derek Graham, aged 51, held one end of the beam to control any “swinging” motion and a colleague raised the telehandler forks and lifted the beam to shoulder height.

As vehicle reversed a sling slipped from the fork, bringing the beam crashing onto Mr Graham. He was airlifted to hospital with severe pelvic injuries and spent six weeks in hospital undergoing a series of operations. He remains off work undergoing physiotherapy and may be unable to return to the same work which he has been doing for 22 years.

Method statement required sling lifting eye

Leicester Magistrates heard that HSE investigators found that a method statement prepared for the lifting of the beams stated that slings should be “securely choked around the beam” and lifted by telehandler using a sling-lifting eye.

Mr Graham had not seen this document and his colleague operating the telehandler had not received any formal training. A risk assessment had been carried out which failed identify the need for a specific lifting plan or technical information on the loads to be lifted.

M&J Ballantyne Ltd, of Kelso, Roxburghshire, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £551 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE principal inspector Tony Mitchell said:

“The lifting of heavy loads where workers are under or in the near vicinity of the suspended load is a high risk activity that can result in serious or even fatal injury. The dangers of lifting operations such as this are well-known and understood in the construction industry.

There is ample free guidance available on how to comply with the law and carry out the work safely.

After the incident, an Improvement Notice was served on the company after it failed to assess the risks and take appropriate action to control and manage them, and prepare a lifting plan. The company complied with this notice and also purchased a suitable lifting attachment to be fitted over the forks which would provide a single lifting point.

It is a pity they did not consider doing this before a worker suffered a painful but preventable injury.”

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