A Nottingham-based plant hire company has been prosecuted and fined after a Health and Safety investigation found health and safety breaches had caused or contributed to serious injuries to a worker.
The un-named 40 year old worker – who asked to be anonymized for personal reasons – was working for L&M Glazing Ltd when the accident occurred on 3 July 2012.
On the day in question the worker had been cleaning an excavator that had returned to L&M Glazing Ltd’s depot covered in dirt. The work had to be done quickly as the excavator was due to be hired out the next day and the worker was cleaning it over a wash bay, with the main section raised off the ground by its hydraulic excavator arm and shovel blade. Whilst it was raised off the ground its caterpillar tracks were turned on so they could spin whilst they were sprayed with a jet of water.
As the worker use the jet spray his arm became trapped in the spinning tracks. A colleague came to his aid and pushed two levers, intending to free the worker. However, this caused the vehicle to jerk forwards suddenly, trapping the worker under the tracks. Two other workers then had to use wrenches and jacks to free the worker from underneath the excavator.
The Health and Safety Executive was subsequently informed of the accident and commenced an investigation. This investigation found that there had been serious health and safety breaches by L&M Glazing Limited, including a failure to plan the work properly and a failure to implement a safe system of work. A prosecution was therefore recommended.
The case came before the Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 25 September 2013. L&M Glazing Limited pleaded guilty to a breach of section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £11,000, as well as being ordered to pay £6,400 in costs.
HSE inspector David Butter stated after the hearing: “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.”
Neither L&M Glazing Ltd nor their criminal defence solicitors appear to have commented after the judgment
Chris Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “As the HSE inspector commented in this case, employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that there is no harm to the health, safety or welfare of its employees and third parties at work. It was clearly felt in this instance that the employer had failed in this duty in some respects.”