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Fife company fined after lathe crushes worker's leg

A Fife engineering company has been fined £10,000 after a lathe weighing more than a tonne toppled onto a worker’s leg.

Craig Stewart, 21, worked for AG Brown Ltd, a metal fabrication company which specialises in making stairs and other metal products for the oil and gas industries and general construction industry.

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court heard that on 26 May 2010, Mr Stewart was working with a colleague to move a 1.2 tonne lathe from a workshop on Cavendish Way, Glenrothes, to one of the company’s other workshops on Rutherford Road, Glenrothes.

Mr Stewart and his colleague decided to lift the lathe using a lifting eye and a fabric sling hooked over the forks of a fork lift truck. However, the doorway of the workshop was not high enough to move the fork lift truck through it with the forks raised. To overcome this problem, Mr Stewart and his colleague decided to use the fork lift truck to move the lathe as close as possible to the doorway. This would then allow them to lower the lathe onto three skates to move it outside before re-attaching it to the forklift truck for it to be moved to the other workshop.

As his colleague lowered the lathe onto the skates, Mr Stewart noticed that the skate at the heavier chuck end of the lathe was not aligned properly. Mr Stewart crouched down to straighten the skate, but as he did this, the unsecured lathe fell over onto Mr Stewart, crushing his right leg.

He suffered a broken leg and needed surgery to insert a pin the length of his shin. Although he expects to make a full recovery, he has been left with scarring where the pin was inserted. He also needed weekly physiotherapy sessions following the incident and had to give up playing football due to the pain it caused in his leg.

At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, AG Brown Ltd of George Square, Castle Brae, Dunfermline, Fife, was fined £10,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.


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