Lack of risk assessment led to worker crushed under lorry

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A Stoke firm, which designs and manufactures trailers for commercial vehicles, has been sentenced after a worker was seriously injured when he was crushed underneath a lorry when the tuck-away tail-lift closed on him, reports the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Mark Dimmock, 28, from Stoke-on-Trent, had only been working for Don-Bur (Bodies & Trailers) Ltd for one week at the company’s site on Mossfield Road, when the incident happened on 28 June last year.

He suffered internal bleeding, two crushed vertebrae and had to undergo surgery to remove part of his bowel.

The company was prosecuted by the HSE after an investigation found it had failed to formally plan the work, undertake a risk assessment, ensure suitable systems of work were in place or provide suitable training or instructions.

Stafford Magistrates’ Court heard that the agency worker had been working underneath the lorry to fit a tuck-away style tail-lift, used to raise heavy items onto the trailer.

The court was told that, due to a mistake in the wiring, the lift had been directly connected to the vehicle’s motor. This meant that when other employees turned on a portable power supply to fit electrical components to the vehicle, the lift began to close in on the worker.

Mr Dimmock has been able to return to work on short temporary contracts following the incident but can only perform light duties.

He is struggling to go back to his normal job as a fitter in the oil refinery business, due to the work being physically demanding, and is always likely to suffer some degree of pain and difficulty with his back.

Don-Bur (Bodies & Trailers) Ltd, of Mossfield Road, Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of workers. The company was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,233.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Lyn Mizen said:

“The dangers of moving machinery are well known and this case illustrates the serious consequences of failing to suitably manage and control the risks in the workplace.

“Mark suffered an horrific experience and life-changing injuries, the results of which will stay with him forever.

“The company had failed to complete a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for this work activity. This would have identified the need for simple procedural safeguards and systems of work to protect their workers. In short, this incident could easily have been avoided.”

HSE statistics show that, in 2010/11, eight UK workers were killed as a result of incidents involving contact with moving machinery, and more than 1,000 others were seriously injured.

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