Have you ever had a task to do that is outside of your businesses normal capabilities? We have a number of clients where sometimes work comes along that doesn’t easily fit into the design of their workplace. This is where we stress the importance of doing risk assessment properly in order to ensure that if they take the work on they have a suitable plan to control any risks.
This obviously didn’t happen at a Cumbrian engineering firm who have been fined £12,000 after a worker suffered severe injuries when he was struck by a metal frame, weighing nearly two tonnes.
The 21 year old from Carlisle, sustained multiple cuts and fractures to his left foot and leg, and has still been unable to return to work almost a year on from the incident.
The business Tweddle Fabrications Ltd, which trades as Tweddle Engineering, was prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation found the partially-constructed trailer chassis had swung out of control while being lifted by two forklift trucks.
Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard that workers had been trying to lift and rotate the frame at the factory in Kirkbride on 27 February 2014. Another employee, not involved in the lift, was walking across the factory floor when the 1.8 tonne chassis moved in an uncontrolled way and struck him.
The court was told that the company had failed to plan the work properly, despite it requiring a complicated lift using two forklift trucks. There should also have been someone responsible for supervising the lift, and measures should have been in place to ensure that other workers were kept at a safe distance away. Lifts of this type are often potentially dangerous given that there was no purpose designed lifting equipment in place and needs to be carefully controlled.
Unfortunately for Tweddle Fabrications Ltd the outcome was a fine of £12,000 and costs of £501 after they pleaded guilty to a breach of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
Even more unfortunate is the worker still has difficulty walking almost a year after the incident. He wasn’t involved in the work to rotate the trailer chassis but had no way of knowing his life was being put at risk as he walked across the factory floor. Had basic controls been put into place this could have been easily avoided.
Businesses have a clear legal responsibility to ensure that a complicated lifts such as this one where they were using two forklifts was planned properly, supervised appropriately and carried out safely but Tweddle failed to do any of this.
The HSE has said this case should act as a warning to manufacturers that they risk the safety of their employees by not making suitable arrangements when undertaking such lifting operations.