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Hose whiplash broke worker’s leg

10 May 13 Civil engineering contractor Joseph Gallagher Ltd has been prosecuted after a construction worker had his left leg broken by the whiplash of an industrial hose.

The hose was being used for concrete spraying in a tunnelling project beneath the Dorchester Hotel in London.

The company appeared before Westminster Magistrates this week for a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act after the incident at the site on 27 February 2010.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), which brought the case, told the court that Adrian Murray, 48, who lives in Ireland, was one of a small group of workers on the night shift spraying concrete on a 3m-diameter service tunnel that stretched between the Dorchester and 45 Park Lane.

Concrete was sent down steel pipes via a connector device to a flexible hose with a nozzle attached, enabling to operatives to spray the tunnel’s surface. When the shift ended, they cleaned the pipes by using compressed air to shoot a foam ball and water down to the nozzle. The hose was secured and hung over a skip to catch the waste.

When the skip was full, the hose was moved to expel to the ground for one final clean through. However, as it ran down the pipe, the foam ball got jammed at the connector. One worker rapped it with a spanner to free it but the build-up of the compressed air forced the hose free from its restraining rope and it whiplashed out violently, hitting Mr Murray.

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HSE’s investigation found that Joseph Gallagher Ltd had failed to properly assess the risks involved with the cleaning process and the use of compressed air. The workers had been given no safe system of work to adopt for the procedure.

Joseph Gallagher Ltd of New Derwent House, Theobalds Road, London WC1, was fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,406 in costs after admitting a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Pete Collingwood said: "Joseph Gallagher Ltd failed in its obligation to employees to identify the risks of the job they do and then provide a safe way for them to carry it out. As a result, Mr Murray has suffered a severe leg injury and has been unable to return to work since.

"The case highlights the importance of producing a risk assessment and associated safe system of work for every dangerous activity. If this task had been properly planned and communicated to those ‘at the sharp end’ on site, it could have easily been prevented."

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