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Digger driver to pay £4k for hitting workmate with bucket

28 Apr 14 An excavator operator has been ordered to pay compensation to the dumper truck driver he hit with the bucket of his digger while making a phone call.

Gary Draper was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found he had been using a mobile phone while driving the digger on a building site in Milton Keynes, and had not noticed his colleague.

Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard on Friday (25th April) that Mr Draper had been operating the excavator at the Middleton site off Brickhill Street on 8 December 2012, working alongside a colleague who was driving the site dumper truck. Mr Draper was excavating and dumping material into the truck.

The court heard that the driver of the dumper truck, who does not wish to be named, had returned to the excavation site for the next load. Mr Draper, on the phone, had not realised his colleague had returned and slewed round, striking the dumper driver on the head. The latter sustained multiple fractures to his jaw as well as a punctured and collapsed lung. He was off work for 14 months.

Gary Draper, of Oakpits Way, Rushden, Northants, was ordered to pay compensation of £2,500 to the injured worker, and costs of £1,554 after pleading guilty to a single breach the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Manley said: “Construction site vehicles are extremely powerful and, if the operator becomes distracted, can be highly dangerous.

“Road users are rightly banned from using mobile phones when driving cars. It’s clearly important that those in control of machinery – weighing up to 40 tonnes in some cases – need to be equally attentive and concentrate solely on the job at hand.

“This incident could easily have been avoided if the operator had followed site rules and not become complacent about his responsibilities when operating his vehicle.”

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