Worker seriously injured after breaker falls from excavator

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Construction company Hovington Limited has been fined £34,000 after a groundworker was struck by a falling piece of plant machinery

The groundworker was hit by a falling piece of plant machinery while working on a construction site in Rotherham.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 4 February 2019, groundworkers, including the injured worker, were breaking out ground using a 13 tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch, as part of trench work to install new drainage of the site at Arconic Forging and Extrusions, Sheffield Road, Ickles, Rotherham.

The breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator. It fell, narrowly missing one ground worker, and landed on the injured groundworker’s right foot. He sustained injuries which led to the amputation of his right leg below the knee.

HSE investigation

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to ensure that a safe method of work was in place when working in the vicinity of an excavator, there was no defined segregation between people and plant, and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure the machine was isolated before pedestrians enter the working zone of the excavator.

The company also failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments to minimise the risk of attachments falling onto pedestrians.

Hovington Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £1,935.84 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy, said: “This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”

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