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Man lucky to survive telehandler accident

31 Aug 11 A 25-year-old man was lucky to survive after being mown down by a telehandler at a County Durham recycling site, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has said.

The victim, who has asked not to be named, suffered a broken shoulder, two fractured toe bones and a cracked rib when a telehandler reversed into him.

He was working in a sorting shed at First Skips in Shotton Colliery when the incident occurred on 8 October 2009. He was sorting recyclable material by hand from the area where dry waste was deposited when the vehicle knocked him to the ground.

First Skips Ltd, of Thornley Station Industrial Estate, Shotton Colliery, was yesterday fined £3,350 and ordered to pay £3,528.70 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The HSE told Peterlee Magistrates' Court that the company had failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place for the hand sorting of recyclables near moving vehicles, despite the fact that this activity made up a substantial part of the company's daily undertaking.

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Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Victoria Wise said: "The injured worker was lucky not to be killed as a result of this incident, which could have easily been avoided had the company implemented a safe system of work that segregated moving vehicles from pedestrians.

"Workplace transport can pose a significant risk of substantial harm if it isn't properly controlled, and the general safety measures that can be implemented are well known in the industry. There is no excuse for not having a safe system of work in place.

"This prosecution should act as a wake-up call to those, particularly in the waste and recycling industry, who are failing to effectively manage health and safety."

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