An employee received severe burn injuries to her scalp, hip and feet (resulting in the amputation of the little and big toes on both feet) when she struck a 33Kv overhead power line (OHPL) with a telehandler boom whilst moving metal pig huts from one farm to another.
There was no effective supervision, and concern had previously been expressed to the farm manager about the proximity of power lines when moving units from site to site.
The employee had received no: i) training or previous experience of driving telehandlers or any other lift truck; ii) safety induction/awareness or supervision; iii) information training or instruction on dangers of OHPLs, nor what to do in emergency; iv) farm map, plan of operation, instruction on lifting operations or information on how to effectively plan the job or location of OHPLs.
No risk assessment had been carried out and the employer had failed to devise and implement safe systems of work for use of the telehandler.
The employee survived from the accident but is permanently and severely disabled and disfigured. Her injuries were life threatening and the accident could have easily resulted in a fatality.
The farming company and it’s Director were prosecuted under section 2(1) and 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and regulation 3(1) of the RIDDOR for failing to: i) train, instruct and supervise employee’s on driving farm machinery; ii) carry out and record a suitable risk assessment; iii) adequately plan work and lifting operations near to OHPLs; iv) establish a safe system of work; v) report the accident within the required timescale.
The company pleaded guilty and were fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £22,000 cost. The company Director was fined also £6,250.
Find out the maximum height or reach of your machine (and that of any visitor’s machines which are likely to visit your site). If they are likely to come close to, or in contact with OHPLs, ensure that operators and visitors are informed of the risks, the locations of OHPLS wherever the machine is to be used and the precautions to be taken. Further guidance is contained in HSEs Agriculture Information Sheet No.8