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Council fined after subcontractor suffers severe crush injuries

Dumfries and Galloway Council has been fined after a subcontractor suffered severe crush injuries when a tar tipper lorry reversed into a paver machine he was driving while carrying out road repairs.

The 20-year-old, who does not wish to be named, was one of two subcontractors working for Hamilton Tarmac alongside a squad of men from Dumfries and Galloway Council to undertake repairs on a minor road between the villages of Rhonehouse and Tongland.

Dumfries Sheriff Court heard (on 30 July) that on 27 April 2010 the injured worker was driving the paver forwards along the road followed by a reversing tipper lorry driven by a council employee. From his position in the cab of the tipper lorry, the reversing driver could not see the carriageway behind the lorry where the paver was positioned.

As the paver reached the low point of a dip in the road its speed was reduced as it started to climb the incline. The Hamilton Tarmac employee noticed the tipper lorry was gaining on his slower moving vehicle but before he could sound his horn to alert the tipper lorry driver to his presence it struck the paver.

The lorry struck the operator safety rail to the rear of the paver, buckling it and moving it forward over the platform on which the subcontractor had been standing, trapping him between the rail and a control panel.

Around the same time as the vehicles collided the subcontractor then sounded the horn of the paver alerting the tipper driver who applied the brakes of his vehicle. Unfortunately in his panic in attempting to move the tipper forward to disengage it from the paver he damaged the prop shaft of his vehicle thus rendering it immobile.

This prevented the subcontractor being extracted, trapping him on his vehicle and in considerable pain until a fire appliance arrived to pull the tipper lorry free.

The injured worker suffered fractures to his pelvis and spine, bruising to a kidney, internal bleeding and nerve damage. He underwent surgery to repair the fractures to his pelvis with two screws and still suffers from lower back pain. He returned to work 15 months after the incident where he remains on light duties.

Following the incident, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was a risk caused by the tipper lorry reversing a considerable distance along a very narrow road with limited visibility. Inspectors also found the tipper lorry wasn't fitted with adequate reversing aids in the form of cameras.

The investigation also found that a risk assessment by the council picked up on both these issues and while it identified the need for reversing aids in the form of cameras and audible reversing alarms, most of the vehicles in the fleet did not have cameras installed.

Dumfries and Galloway Council, of English Street, Dumfries was fined a total of £40,000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety At Work etc. Act 1974.


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