A construction company has been fined £34,000 after a worker suffered life-changing injuries in an avoidable incident that “could have easily resulted in a fatality.”
Hovington Limited, based in Rochdale, appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in relation to the incident, which occurred on 4th February 2019.
The court heard how the company had failed to implement suitable control measures or safe working practices.
At the time of the incident, groundworkers, including the injured person, were working to break out ground using a 13-tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch. The task was part of trench work to install new drainage at the site of Arconic Forging and Extrusions in Rotherham.
Things went wrong when the breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator and fell, narrowly missing one ground worker and landing on the injured worker’s right foot.
He sustained injuries which meant that doctors were forced to amputate his right leg below the knee.
A subsequent investigation by the HSE found that Hovington Limited had failed to ensure that a safe method of work had been implemented when working in the vicinity of an excavator. They also found that there was no defined segregation between people and plant and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure that the machine was isolated before pedestrians entered the working zone of the excavator.
In addition, the company had failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments in order to minimise the risk of any attachments falling onto pedestrians.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In addition to their £34,000 fine they were ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,935.84.
Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy said:
“This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.
“There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”
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