Plant hire firm fined after reversing mini-digger injures workers

A national plant hire company has been fined for safety failings after two employees were struck and injured by a reversing mini-digger at a North London depot.

One of the workers, a 60-year-old from Barnet who does not want to be named, broke a bone just below his knee and suffered extensive tissue damage to his foot and ankle in the incident at One Call Hire Ltd, on Crown Road, Enfield, on 18 December 2012.

The company, which has 23 depots across the UK including the Enfield head office, was prosecuted today (12 February) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified concerns with an unsafe system of work.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that the injured workers were part of a team preparing a mini-digger for shipment to Australia, and were giving the machine a final clean.

During the work it was inadvertently put into reverse and struck an employee. In trying to release him, the vehicle was again reversed, causing him additional injuries and injuring another worker. A third had a lucky escape because he was under the vehicle at the time, but managed to move away just in time.

HSE inspectors established that there was no agreed system of work for the refurbishment and cleaning activity, and the vehicle should have been isolated to ensure that it couldn’t move.

The court was told that One Call workers devised their own system of work that was inherently unsafe, and that none of them had received any formal training.

One Call Hire Ltd, of Crown Road, Enfield, was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay £1,036 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Chris Tilley said:

“It is clear that there was no safe system of work in place for work in and around the digger, either of a formal or informal nature. Had the work been properly assessed, and measures taken to isolate power to the engine and make it safe, then the two workers could have avoided injury.

“One Call Hire Ltd has accepted its failings in this regard, and we hope this prosecution sends a clear message to others.”

Notes to Editors

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”

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