Trying to lift a large expanded polystyrene block in an excavator bucket resulted in the load falling and breaking the back of one of the site team.
Brighton Magistrates Court heard how on the 20th January 2017 BAM Nuttall workers were constructing a piling platform at Redhill Station in Surrey from expanded polystyrene blocks. One of the blocks slipped from an excavator bucket while being lowered into place, hitting Andrew Stuart on the head and fracturing three of his vertebrae. He is still suffering the effects of the injury and is likely to be on pain medication for the foreseeable future.
The Health & Safety Executive was not particularly concerned about the inappropriate use of digging equipment for lifting – an application for which excavators are not designed. It was more concerned about the lack of suitable slings. It found that the lifting operation had not used appropriate lifting accessories to transport the load and had simply relied on trapping the load with the bucket against the dipping arm of the excavator.
Bam Nuttall pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was been fined £833,333.33 and ordered to pay full costs of £5,478.22 as well as a victim surcharge of £170.
HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said after the hearing: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply using appropriate lifting accessories such as chains and strops to carry out the lifting operation. Failure to do so has resulted in the serious injury of Andrew Stewart. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate action against those that fall below required standards.”