One and half tonne pallet crushes worker’s leg…
A man from Bradford may need to have his foot and lower leg amputated after an accident at a factory in Tyersal when a pallet weighing around one and a half tonnes fell onto his leg inflicting severe crush injuries.
The 51-year-old accident victim worked as a coating assistant at the company plant and had been told to use an older piece of machinery to turn some bulk tin plate prior to the accident. A colleague of the man explained to him how to use the machine and how to load the pallets using the machine in conjunction with a forklift truck. The accident which occurred on 6 February 2012 happened after the man had followed the instructions on using the machine and loading the pallets, however after switching on the machine it turned 180 degrees and metal plates and pallets came tumbling off it, he tried to move out of the way but a heavy pallet crushed his feet and trapped him to the ground.
After the accident, the man was rushed to hospital where his big toe had to be severed and he had to have metal plates inserted into his ankle and lower leg. He spent 11 days in hospital while his injuries were being treated. Since the incident the man has had extreme mobility difficulties and cannot walk without crutches. He has not been able to resume work as he remains housebound and he has been informed by doctors that his foot and lower leg may still be amputated.
The HSE investigation into the incident discovered that the company that employed the man failed in their duty to provide both a safe system of work and safe working equipment to their employee. The machine that he used at the time of the accident didn’t have a clamping mechanism that might have maintained its stability while it also lacked protective guarding to keep operators safe during the loading process. The company was also negligent in terms of carrying out an adequate risk assessment for the likely dangers associated with using the machine during the loading of pallets and metal plates.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £3,769 in prosecution costs.
HSE Inspector Andrea Jones spoke after the hearing:
“Everyone has the right to come home from work safe and well. But the accident victim suffered life-changing injuries in an incident that was preventable.
“The company failed in their duties to provide a suitable machine for turning pallets and a safe method of operation that the accident victim could use. Manually securing the load in an open box by means of wedges or empty pallets is not a sufficiently reliable method of securing the load.
“A proper examination of the risks would have shown that there was a danger of the load shifting and falling from the machine, during or after turning. A simple clamping mechanism would have secured it, and was indeed applied to the newer machine.
“It is also essential that checks are made by managers to ensure operators are trained and competent to use the machines they provide, understand the risks and associated precautions to take.”
The HSE report that last year there were a total of31 deaths as well as more than 3,400 major injuries and 14,000 minor injuries in the manufacturing sector.
Author: Julian Roberts
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