West Yorkshire construction company fined after worker suffers multiple fracturesBeat The Cowboy Builder
West Yorkshire company fined after worker suffers multiple fractures from a cherry picker fall.
Construction company fined a five-figure sum for safety failings after one of its workers suffered multiple fractures from a cherry picker fall.
Nicholas Chenery, 33, of Stowmarket, suffered a compound fracture to the left leg and three fractured vertebrae to his lower spine in the incident in the Buntingford area on August 9, 2012.
He required extensive surgery, including steel pins and skin grafts for his leg fracture and a back brace fitted for his fractured vertebrae.
He may need a further operation on a displaced bone in his left ankle and was unable to work for several months, although he has now returned.
The Freedom Group of Companies Ltd (FGCL), which is based in West Yorkshire, was today prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found that more could and should have been done to prevent the fall.
Watford Magistrates’ Court heard that the company had been commissioned by a major energy network operator to replace overhead power lines and distribution poles between Cherry Green and Reed in Hertfordshire. The project started on April 2, 2012 and lasted 44 weeks.
On August 9, FGCL employees, including Mr Chenery, were rigging three overhead lines that were approximately 500 metres apart. One line was already secured to a distribution pole and a second line was about to be secured.
The second line was secured to the bucket of a cherry picker that carried Mr Chenery, and this was being raised to attach it to the pole. At the same time, some 500 metres away, the line was also being back-tensioned by a dumper truck.
The bucket was approximately 12 metres in the air when the dumper truck pulled the cherry picker over, causing the bucket to fall to the ground with Mr Chenery still inside.
During their investigation, HSE inspectors found that FGCL had fallen well below its own in-house standards regarding the planning, managing and monitoring of such a routine operation within its field of expertise.
Inspectors also found that the company had failed to plan and implement a clear and unambiguous communication system and said it failed to ensure the operation was supervised effectively.
Freedom Group of Companies Ltd, of Bradford Road, Tingley, West Yorkshire, was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £11,272 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the sentencing hearing, HSE Inspector John Berezansky, said: “Work at height of this nature is inherently high-risk, and it has to be properly planned, controlled and supervised.
“In this instance, the two teams involved in the task were separated by some 500 metres. Radios and mobile phones were provided; however the level of communication was poor and ambiguous, and the supervision of the task was sub-standard. FGCL should have ensured that the system they had in place was robust enough to deal with the risk.
“Without such a system in place, and in the absence of appropriate supervision, the workers became exposed to a much higher level of risk throughout the operation – especially Mr Chenery, who was in the most vulnerable position in the cherry picker bucket some 12 metres up in the air.
“He sustained serious injuries as a direct result of FGCL’s failure to manage the risks of this operation.”