Hovington Limited was digging trenches for new drainage at Arconic Forging & Extrusions in Ickles, Rotherham, when the incident happened.
Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 4th February 2019, groundworkers, including the injured person, were breaking out ground using a 13-tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch. The breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator and fell to the ground, narrowly missing one ground worker and landing on the right foot of another.
His injuries were so bad that he had to have his right leg amputated below the knee.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company failed to ensure that a safe method of work was in place when working in the vicinity of an excavator; there was no defined segregation between people and plant; and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure the machine was isolated before pedestrians enter the working zone of the excavator.
The company also failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments to minimise the risk of attachments falling onto pedestrians.
Hovington Limited of Chichester Street, Rochdale pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £1,935.84 in costs.
HSE inspector Trisha Elvy said after the hearing: “This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”