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Worker crushed between skips while seeking relief

16 Aug 11 An Ayr recycling company has been fined £80,000 after a worker was severely injured when he was crushed between two skips.

On 26 August 2009, Steven Graham was taking a leak between two skips at a recycling centre run by Lowmac Alloys because the site’s toilet was too disgusting to use. As he relieved himself, a shovel loader weighing more than 18 tonnes hit one of the skips, pushing it towards the other and crushing Mr Graham between them.

Mr Graham, 46, from Ayrshire, screamed for help but the driver of the shovel loader did not hear him at first and carried on driving. When he realised that Mr Graham was injured, the driver tried to lift one of the skips away from Mr Graham but it took two attempts before he managed to do so.

Mr Graham was taken to Ayr Hospital by ambulance. He was treated for a broken pelvis and other severe, life-changing injuries. He continues to have difficulty in walking.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company had not properly assessed traffic management risk at its site in Ayr and had no safe system of work in that there were no barriers or road markings to separate pedestrian workers from the shovel loader or other vehicles on site.

The investigation also found that the shovel loader was too big for the area where it was operating, and that the drivers had never been formally trained, were not supervised, and had been given no training at all on health and safety issues.

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The one portable toilet on site was found to be unhygienic with no running water. Several of the employees told HSE inspectors that the toilet was so filthy they preferred to urinate in the yard, and this was a practice accepted by management. It was this situation that led to Mr Graham being in between the skips.

HSE inspector Aileen Jardine said: "Mr Graham suffered horrendous injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life - but this incident was entirely avoidable. If Lowmac had taken simple steps to protect their staff, carrying out a proper risk assessment and taking measures to separate employees from the heavy vehicles that operated on site, this would not have happened.

"And if the company had shown basic consideration for the welfare of their employees by providing a toilet that was fit to use, Mr Graham would not have been left in such a vulnerable position."

At Ayr Sheriff Court yesterday (15 August 2011) Lowmac Alloys Ltd, of Green Street Lane, Ayr, plead guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974. It was fined £80,000.

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