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Lorry loader crushes worker in brick clamp

17 Oct 11 A Jewson lorry loader operator has been fined after another worker was crushed in the brick clamp of the lorry loader, leaving him with serious internal injuries.

Yeovil Magistrates' Court heard how, on 18 November 2010, Mark Pratten, 53, a lorry loader operator working for Saint Gobain Building Distribution Ltd (trading as Jewson Builders Merchant), attempted to use a brick clamp on a lorry crane to lift Peter Hoy, 47, a self-employed general builder off the roof of a cabin while he was collecting building materials from a construction site at Mayfield House, High Street, Rode.

The pallet of materials they were collecting was behind an eight foot wall and it was not possible to pick them up normally with the lorry crane that the men were using. In trying to guide the crane into place Mr Hoy climbed onto the roof of the cabin and to get down quickly Mr Pratten tried to lift him with the grab of the crane.

Mr Hoy walked between the arms of the clamp, which was at waist height, in preparation to gain a foot or hand hold. As he did so, Mr Pratten attempted to move the arms. However, he used the wrong switch and inadvertently operated the clamp button.

The arms clamped Mr Hoy's waist, fracturing his pelvis and causing crush-related internal injuries, including nerve damage. His injuries are so severe that he is still off work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Pratten fell far short of the appropriate standard required of a lorry loader operator in attempting to use the lorry loader in an unsafe manner and also lift Mr Hoy with the clamp.

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This was in spite of the fact that Mr Pratten was fully trained to use the lorry loaders and had more than 20 years' experience in that line of work. He was also familiar with the controls on the machine he was using and aware of its capabilities, including the fact that the brick clamp was not suitable for lifting people.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE inspector Helena Tinton said: "Even if the clamp had not been activated, attempting to lift Mr Hoy down from the cabin roof with a brick clamp was in no way safe.

"Two people's lives have been seriously affected in this incident: Mr Hoy is still suffering from health problems related to his internal injuries and does not yet know when he will be able to return to work. Mr Pratten has lost his job after this action which went against all his training and years of experience."

Mark Pratten, from Radstock, Somerset, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974 and was fined £1,500 with £1,000 costs.

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