Luton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 19th July 2018, the employee – a machine operator – was laying a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) foul sewer pipe weighing 20 tonnes with three other plant operators who were positioned along a 240-metre trench to lift and drag the pipe.
One of the slings being used to pull the pipe failed catastrophically, causing a bow shackle link to be catapulted back towards the first operator. The employee was hit in the leg by the solid metal shackle, which weighed 7.5kg, causing multiple fractures that needed extensive surgery.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to ensure that the operation was safely planned and carried out, with appropriate supervision in place.
Smith Construction Group Limited of Maidstone Road, Kingston, Milton Keynes pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. It was fined £55,440 and ordered to pay costs of £971.80.
HSE inspector Rauf Ahmed said after the hearing: “This incident could have been avoided if the dutyholders had assessed the risks of the load handling operation and put appropriate safety measures in place.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”