A former Hull company has been prosecuted after a worker was hit by a toppling metal column as the stage was being prepared for the popular Classics in the Park festival in East Yorkshire.
Tega (Hull) Ltd was charged with safety failures after a joint investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and East Riding Council and was due to be sentenced at Hull Crown Court today (4 March). It admitted a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 at a hearing before Magistrates last year.
The Crown Court heard, however, that Tega (Hull) Ltd, formerly of Sculcoates Lane, Hull, had been dissolved as a company at the start of this year. The court placed an ‘endorsement’ on file to record the fact that the company no longer existed and therefore could not be sentenced.
HSE told the court the worker was part of a team erecting a temporary stage at Brantingham Park, Elloughton, for the 2011 concerts. The men were attempting to raise the first of four columns to support the stage roof on 6 July 2011 – four days before the opening night – when the incident happened.
A forklift truck was to pull the column upright from its horizontal position on the stage while four workers pushed it from beneath. On the third attempt, however, the truck slid backwards on wet grass and the column fell, hitting one of the men.
The worker, 54, from Thorngumbald in East Yorkshire, suffered serious fractures to his lower left leg, which required surgery, and damaged vertebrae in his back.
HSE’s investigation found Tega (Hull) Ltd did not have a safe system of work in place and had not properly planned the lifting operations. It failed to protect both its own employees and those of a sub-contracted labouring team hired in from a local events company. HSE Inspector David Bradley said:
“The columns that formed part of the staging were a significant size and weight and one falling in an uncontrolled manner, as it did on this occasion, had the potential to cause fatal injuries.
“Lifting operations need to be properly planned and managed and suitable equipment made available on site. Those expected to use it must have received training and instruction about its safe use for its intended purpose.
“Tega (Hull) Ltd had been contracted to set up the stage for this event and had a duty to ensure that all those engaged in the lifting operation had the proper equipment and training to perform their tasks safely. This they patently did not do.
“The way the forklift truck was used to lift the column did not constitute a safe system of work. It later transpired the firm had bespoke equipment for lifting columns of this type available at its head office on the same day as the incident.”
For information and advice on safe lifting operations, visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/planning-organising-lifting-operations.htm
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
- Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.”