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Unloading steel needs slings not forks

6 Jun 14 Failure to unload steel beams safely has cost a pair of engineering firms £26,000 in fines.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the companies after a lorry driver had his hand crushed by a beam rolling off a forklift truck.

Kevin Bradley, then aged 54, had delivered the beams to Falburn Engineering Ltd’s premises in Plean, Stirling, on 6 October 2010. He was working with a Falburn forklift truck driver on the unloading operation when he was struck by the falling beam.

Stirling Sheriff Court was told yesterday (5th June) that Mr Bradley, a driver for Hugh Logan Plant & Engineering Services, trading as Skerrysteel Services, was standing on the flatbed trailer when the forklift began to raise the second bundle. As it was lifted, the steel became unstable and rolled away from the forklift. The metal strapping broke and the beams separated, falling towards Mr Bradley. He attempted to jump out of the way but was hit by one of the beams which trapped his feet against the flatbed trailer. Mr Bradley fell towards the ground with his feet still trapped and put a hand down to break his fall.

All four fingers on his right hand were shattered. He underwent a 12-hour emergency operation to save and rebuild his right hand but he has yet to regain sufficient function in his right hand to return to work as an HGV driver and may never do so.

The HSE said it would have been good practice to sling the load using a truck fitted with a hook attachment, and the beams should not have been lifted until Mr Bradley had returned to the ground and was in a safe position. Both companies had compromised safety by neglecting to fully assess the risks involved in unloading the steel beams.

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Hugh Logan Plant & Engineering Services Ltd, of Whistleberry Industrial Estate, Whistleberry Road, Hamilton, was fined £16,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety At Work etc Act 1974.

Falburn Engineering Ltd, of Unit 1, Plean Industrial Estate, Plean, Stirling, was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the same Act.

HSE inspector Michelle Gillies said after the hearing: “The dangers associated with the delivery and unloading of steel, in particular the risks associated with the use of a forklift to carry out the task and the risk of being struck by falling loads, are well-known in the industry and readily foreseeable.

“It is clear there was no meaningful discussion between Falburn Engineering Ltd and Hugh Logan Plant & Engineering Services Ltd about how the delivery would be unloaded, by whom, and using what equipment.

“In effect, the employee who agreed to unload the delivery and Mr Bradley were left to their own devices to undertake the task in whatever way they thought most appropriate. Unfortunately, the method used on the day was far from safe and Mr Bradley was seriously injured as a result.”

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