Road construction firms sentenced after road worker loses arm

Three different construction firms have been ordered to pay at least over £400,000 in fines and costs over serious safety failings after a worker lost his arm when it became trapped in a poorly guarded machine during a road surfacing job.

The worker was preparing a chip spreader which is used to scatter stones across the asphalt for resurfacing works on the A1001 when his left arm became caught in the rotating auger which caused serious injury.

The worker had to have his arm amputated shortly after the incident and has been unable to return to work since.

The incident, on 8 March 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the companies for multiple safety breaches at Watford Magistrates’ Court.

The court was told (25 March), in order to prepare the chip spreader for use, the worker placed on the site by one of the companies started the machine and the rotation of its internal auger. During the operation of setting the machine up for use his arm became entangled in dangerous moving parts.

HSE’s investigation revealed a series of safety failings on the part of all three companies.

HSE found the worker, who was not formally trained in the use of the spreader, and his colleagues were only given one evening to familiarise themselves with the machine by Amey Lafarge when they started work on site six months before the incident.

Amey Lafarge did not give the workers any instruction or training in how to operate the machine safely, including how to secure guards, nor were they given a copy of the operator’s manual for the machine. In addition, there was no safe system of work in place to ensure that the machine was set up and operated properly and that its use was restricted to those who were trained.

The Amey Lafarge did have a risk assessment and a site-specific method statement but these did not reflect the reality of the controls in place for the use of the chip spreader. Indeed, the risk assessment described a different type of chip spreader than the one used on site.

All three companies pleaded guilty to a breach of section 3(1) the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which mounted bills up to £400,000.

Regulations

Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Source: HSE