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Guarding failures left pensioner with life-threatening injuries at wood yard

The log splitter which caused Mr Fryetts injuriesA 73-year-old worker at a Norfolk wood yard was left with life-threatening and life-changing injuries that could have been prevented had the log splitter he was using been better configured and guarded, a court has heard.

Basil Fryett, of Great Massingham, King's Lynn, has spent almost six months in hospital following the incident at K Crompton Ltd., in Docking, on 21 June 2011.

Kings Lynn Magistrates' Court heard yesterday (11 February) that he worked at the wood yard preparing firewood three days a week. On the day of the incident he was sitting on the bar of a log splitter talking to a visitor when his overalls caught on the lever for a hydraulic ram that pushed logs into the splitter. The ram closed on Mr Fryett's thigh and crushed him against the splitter.

The visitor managed to turn the lever in the other direction to release Mr Fryett, but by that time he had suffered severe injuries. He crushed his pelvis, tore a large hole in his perineum and sustained significant internal injuries.

He was initially treated in Addenbooke's hospital for 12 weeks before being transferred to Kings Lynn hospital for a further five weeks. He was subsequently re-admitted on two later occasions after developing an infection and an abscess on his back. He then spent four months at home, but in May 2012 was rushed back to hospital after developing blood clots on his lungs, which left only one lung functioning at 20 per cent capability. He remained bed bound for 12 months although has since regained some limited mobility with the aid of crutches.

The controls of the log splitterThe Health and Safety Executive, which brought today's prosecution against K Crompton Ltd. and its director Kevin Charles Crompton, told magistrates that the log splitter did not comply with the European Standard as there was no guarding to prevent access to dangerous moving parts.

The court also heard that the manual controls were laid out in such a way that it was possible for the operator to get caught between the ram and the wedge or the logs while operating the controls. In addition there was no device to hold the logs in place which meant it had to be done by hand.

During the course of the investigation it was revealed Mr Crompton did not hold Employers' Liability Insurance.

K Crompton Ltd., of Northcote, Docking, King's Lynn, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. Kevin Charles Crompton, aged 54, of the same address, pleaded guilty as a director to an offence under Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for allowing the log splitter to be used without appropriate guarding. Both company and director were told to pay a total of £18,000 in compensation to Mr Fryett.


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