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Worker leg crush injury

Posted: Wednesday 16th, October 2013

Bilston firm fined for worker leg crush injury

Date: 8 October 2013
Release No: HSE/M/240/13

A Bilston shotblasting firm has been fined after a heavy vehicle chassis crushed a
worker's leg when it slipped from a forklift truck during a flawed lifting operation.

Jason Atwell, 42, from Dudley, broke his lower right leg in the incident at Jackson
Shotblasters Ltd, on Dale Street, on 17 May 2012. He was unable to work for
nearly eight months and still suffers from aches and stiffness.

Jackson Shotblasters was prosecuted today (8 October) by the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified serious safety failings.

Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court heard that employee Mr Atwell was working
with a colleague to manoeuvre a large chassis weighing around 1,700kg onto
metal stands in a booth ready for shotblasting.

He was standing in the booth while his colleague operated a forklift truck to lower
the chassis onto the stand. Without warning the chassis slipped from the forks of
the truck and fell onto his legs, crushing them and pinning him against the booth
wall.

HSE's investigation found that the forklift truck used was a standard size, with
standard length forks that were approximately 1.6m long. These were not long
enough to safely lift the 2.4m wide chassis.

Magistrates were told the incident was preventable had suitable lifting
equipment, such as a larger fork lift truck or a crane appropriate to the size of the
chassis, been used instead.

Jackson Shotblasters also failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment for the
task, or properly supervise the work. Mr Atwell had not been trained on how to
safely lift a chassis, or other items, in and out of a shotblasting booth.

The court heard that during the investigation a number of other safety failings
that were unconnected to the incident came to light.

Several enforcement notices were served to stop unsafe activity, including:

Spraying 2-pack aerosol paints in an open workshop. It is well known that 2-pack
paints contain isocyanate, a respiratory sensitiser that can cause irreversible
health problems.
Employees working in noisy areas of the factory without appropriate hearing
protection. They should have been designated as hearing protection zones.
A lack of suitable health surveillance.
Jackson Shotblasters Ltd, of Jackson House, Dale Street, Bilston, was fined £2,000
and ordered to pay £3,912 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1)
of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE Inspector Judith Lloyd said:

"This incident was entirely preventable - the risks were significant and should
have been obvious to the company. Jackson Shotblasters failed to make sure that
there was a safe system of work for lifting the chassis and other fabrications at its
premises.

"There were also a significant number of other matters of concern at the site,
which resulted in several enforcement notices being served. This suggests a
systemic failure on the part of Jacksons to manage a wide range of risks to the
health, safety and welfare of its employees and potentially, others visiting the
site."

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