Saturday, 10 December 2016

Cohart Asbestos Disposal fined £45,674 for leg amputation

Cohart Asbestos Disposal Ltd., an Essex-based hazardous waste disposal company was fined £45,674 (inc.costs) after a worker was crushed beneath a tracked excavator at a sorting and recycling site.
The circumstances were:
  • 7 February 2014 a company director was operating a 360o tracked excavator, which he was using to transfer waste from a main pile to an adjacent manual-sorting area at the Cohart site.
  • The excavator’s reversing alarm and beacon were not working and a mirror was missing from the side of the cab.
  • There was no camera or mirror on the rear of the vehicle.
  • The company had failed to ensure effective communications between the operator of the excavator and persons working in the yard.
  • A worker was processing wood waste .
  • He moved behind the excavator to pick up an old door and place it in a skip. 
  • As he did so, the operator reversed the excavator, crushing the worker beneath one of the tracks. 
  • He sustained serious crush injuries to his right leg which later required amputation in hospital.
  • A visibility assessment on the excavator also revealed that the operator would have been affected by a ‘blind spot’ of up to eight metres directly behind the vehicle.  

The HSE Inspector said:
“Potentially fatal risks arise from operating heavy plant on waste sites, particularly if, as in this case, the vehicle operator’s visibility is restricted. This worker suffered life-changing injuries after the company failed to put in place effective measures to protect pedestrian workers from its heavy plant operations. Every year many people are killed or seriously injured in incidents involving workplace transport, and there is no excuse for employers to neglect this risk. Pedestrians, whether employees or others, should be kept separate from workplace vehicle movements by using physical barriers or safe systems of work that are clear and well supervised.

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