Metal attachment to strimmer detached at high speed inflicting fatal injuries on worker… A father of four was killed after a piece of metal flew off a strimmer and hit him at the back of the neck inflicting fatal injuries on 8 February 2010 at Ramsden Dock in Barrow.
The rural management firm he worked for was prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation revealed that they neglected to plan the work or carry it out to sufficient safety standards.
The accident victim was a self-employed contractor who had been hired by the firm to clear undergrowth at a site where a business park was being constructed. He had been using a chainsaw to cut away some overhanging bushes while a colleague worked nearby with a strimmer. A chain attachment had been added to the strimmer in an attempt to make it more useful for heavy-duty work, but when the piece came loose and struck the victim at high speed the fatal accident occurred.
The widow of the victim spoke at the hearing at Barrow Crown Court:
“Even though I am no engineer, when I was shown the piece of equipment, common sense told me that it was an accident waiting to happen, with links that could easily fly off. It is obvious that insufficient care was taken to protect anyone in the vicinity.
“I cannot comprehend that a company, supposedly experienced in this type of groundwork, didn’t use common sense to realise the equipment was dangerous. This oversight has shattered and ruined my life and that of our children.
“The only small comfort is that the equipment has now been banned so hopefully another family will be spared the anguish we have had to go through and continue to experience with every birthday, Christmas or family occasion.”
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and admitted it had failed to protect the safety of their employees in this instance. The company was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in prosecution costs on 12 March 2012.
Allen Shute who investigated the case for the HSE also gave his view:
“This was a tragic case which has resulted in the needless death of a worker because the company responsible for his safety didn’t do its job properly.
“The chances of him being struck by a piece of metal when the chain became detached were increased by the fact that the strimmer was being operated nearby on a bank above where he was working.
“The company should have properly considered the risks of using a heavy-duty piece of equipment before it allowed the work to take place. If it had, then Mr Robinson’s death could have been avoided.
“The chain attachment has since been banned across Europe, and I would urge anyone who still has one to dispose of it immediately.”
As the HSE Inspector mentioned, a Safety Notice was issued by the HSE warning of the high risks involved with using the strimmer attachment after the accident. The HSE also served a Prohibition Notice against the importer of the attachment into the UK and there is now a ban in place against the sale or supply of the product across Europe.