Builders’ Merchant Fined for Life-Changing Injury

Builders’ Merchant Fined for Life-Changing Injury

July 29, 2022

What happened? Let’s go back to August 2021 when three workers were using a fork-lift truck to unload 20 steel mesh sheets weighing approx. 1 tonne that had been delivered to a builders’ merchant’s branch.  As the forks of the truck lifted and pulled back, a few sheets got caught.  Two of the workers, delivery driver and yardman, walked behind the sheets to help free the mesh when the forks dropped and the load fell on them.

The yardman was trapped underneath, which shattered his legs, feet and ankles.  He nearly lost one of his legs and had five operations following the incident.  The lorry driver suffered severe cuts and lacerations.

So, what did the HSE investigation find? Although there were written risk assessments and method statements for the task, the three involved did not follow them, as they were unaware of the documents and had not been shown the right method for removing the meshes.  A fork lift should not have been used and the meshes should have been removed one at a time, but corners had been cut.

The management at the builder’s merchant’s branch failed to provide adequate levels of training and supervision, which led to the injury.  By communicating risk assessment findings to staff as well as training and supervising safe methods of working, this accident would have been prevented.

Action Taken The company was served with two prohibition notices for the unloading activity and a poorly maintained fork lift.  They also received improvement notices for its risk assessments not being reviewed and lack of training and information for employees.  The company pleaded guilty to a charge under s.2 Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and fined £600k and ordered to pay full costs of £23,094.

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