Two firms have been prosecuted after a worker suffered a broken leg when he deliberately steered his ride-on cleaning machine into a balustrade after the brakes failed, in order to avoid hitting pedestrians in Stansted airport.
The worker was forced to veer into the central dividing balustrade after brakes on the scrubber-drier machine failed to respond as he rode down a sloping passenger ramp. The worker luckily had his wits about him to prevent further and potentially more serious injury to the public around him.
As the machine came to a halt, passengers rushed to his aid and helped to free his trapped legs. The man suffered a broken right thigh, sprained right knee and two sprained ankles, requiring four days’ treatment in hospital. He has since returned to work.
The incident, on 2 July 2013, was investigated by the HSE who prosecuted ISS Facility Services Ltd, of Surrey, and the maintenance contractor Michael Laryea, trading as Lamick Floor Machines, of Isleworth, Middlesex.
The court heard that once the worker realised the brakes were not slowing the vehicle during descent, he shouted for passengers to get out of the way and pulled the steering wheel hard to the right to slow the machine against the central walkway balustrade. Passengers then came to help and stopped the machine moving further by leaning against it, and then freed his legs which had become trapped.
HSE’s investigation found that the scrubber drier machine had a worn and ineffective brake that had been poorly maintained. A second machine was also found to have similar defects. Clearly this was a case where two businesses were grossly negligent and you have to ask yourself how this could happen? They had equipment working in a busy and high profile location yet failed to complete the basic checks needed to keep these two sweepers in good safe working order.
In court, ISS Facility Services Limited of Woking, Surrey, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £5,490 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.
Michael Laryea, trading as Lamick Floor Machines, of Isleworth, Middlesex was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,490 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
The HSE commented after the case that this accident would not have happened, had the machine been regularly inspected and maintained.