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Building company fined

Posted: Tuesday 20th, January 2015

Building company fined after employee struck by digger bucket

Date: 12 January 2015

A building company has been fined for safety failings after an employee broke his
back when he was struck by the bucket on a digger.

RMC Building and Civil Engineering Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety
Executive (HSE) following an investigation into the incident at the Longleat Estate
in Warminster.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard today (12 Jan) that the company had been
hired to install fencing around the estate in January 2014. Peter McGrellis, who
was 48 and living in Westbury at the time, was one of three employees carrying out
the work, which involved using a digger to push wooden fence posts into the
ground.

The posts were held by hand whilst the operator of the digger rested the bucket
on top of the post and applied downward pressure to it.

On 16 January, Mr McGrellis was holding one of the posts ready for the digger to
push it down. The top of the post split, causing the bucket to slip and hit Mr
McGrellis on the shoulder, knocking him to the ground.

He suffered significant injuries including a broken vertebra. Mr McGrellis was in
hospital for over a week and he still suffers with pain.

An HSE investigation found that the company failed to plan, manage and monitor
the work. The method statement prepared by the company for the operation
indicated a piece of equipment called a post driver was going to be used to drive
the posts into the ground but that the digger may be used to position the posts. A
post driver had been ordered along with a smaller digger but it arrived after the
incident happened.

The investigation also found that while a risk assessment had been produced, it
made no reference to the risk of working close to the digger.

RMC Building & Civil Engineering Ltd, of Perivale Business Park, Horsenden Lane,
Greenford, London, was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,117 after
pleading guilty to a single breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment
Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Ian Whittles said: “The use of excavator
vehicles in such a manner is dangerous and is known to cause injury. The serious
failure of RMC Building & Civil Engineering in not managing this job properly led to
this avoidable incident and unfortunately Mr McGrellis suffered as a result.

“Workers have a right to expect that the equipment they use is appropriate for the
task – on this occasion the equipment used was clearly not suitable for the job.

“Anyone in control of construction projects must ensure the work is properly
planned and thoroughly risk-assessed to avoid such incidents.”

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