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Handling stone case studies

Safety failures led to worker's injury

A businessman and his company were prosecuted for safety breaches after a worker narrowly escaped being crushed by a collapsing load of stone slabs.

The two-tonne set of ten slabs fell from the side of a lorry as workmen were trying to unload them. Two employees were on the trailer having removed the packaging supporting the slabs so each could be removed individually by a forklift truck. As one of them altered a clamp at the end of a lifting arm attached to the forklift while standing in front of the slabs, they began to topple. Both men leapt from the side of the trailer but the falling slabs hit one of them.

He suffered a broken leg and severe bruising to his right side and was on crutches for six months and remained out of work for ten months.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and prosecuted the company despite it going into liquidation. They also prosecuted a former director.

HSE had served a prohibition notice 2 years earlier during a routine inspection, that halted further use of the lifting arm as it was not fit for purpose.

Although the firm complied with the prohibition notice, HSE found that at the time of the accident the same lifting arm was back in use. The investigation also identified that the forklift had not been serviced or maintained, and there had been no operator training. In addition, the company and the director had failed to implement a safe method of work and to provide employees with instruction or supervision on the day.

The company, c/o the liquidator and the former director were each fined £2,000 with £5,000 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act l974.

Firm fined after granite slabs topple onto workers

A company was fined after two workers were crushed by granite slabs they were trying to move.

An agency worker cut his neck, broke his leg and damaged veins; whilst an employee suffered bruising on his leg and compact nerve syndrome in his foot.

The two workers were part of a four-strong team moving granite slabs stacked on an A-frame. They took the weight of approximately four slabs while the other workers tried to remove the slab they needed.

At this point the slabs came crashing down on the pair causing the injuries. The most seriously injured man was unable to return to physical work after the incident and has undergone a number of operations.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the employer had failed to provide proper training to the workers on safe ways of removing the slabs or ensuring they could not topple over. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Magistrates imposed a fine of £3,000 and ordered the company to pay £7,000 in costs.

Updated: 2013-12-12