Crush injuries prosecution for a demolition company and its director. A demolition firm has been fined and one of its directors ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work after a 20-year-old worker was crushed.
Ace Demolition Services Limited had been contracted by Southend Borough Council to demolish Futures Community College, in Southchurch Boulevard, Southend-on-Sea.
Shannon Brasier, who was 20 years old at the time, was working with a colleague to load a fuel hose into the rear compartment of a 21-tonne excavator, when the excavator moved round and crushed her between the excavator and a mobile fuel tank.
Ms Brasier, from Dagenham, suffered life-changing injuries, including to her neck, skull and face, which she was fortunate to survive.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Ace Demolition Services Limited failed to implement suitable controls to segregate pedestrians and construction plant, allowed two pairs of keys to be used during the refuelling process and allowed operatives to act as signallers/banksman for the excavator without having received adequate training.
A director, John Gilligan, was responsible for supervising the refuelling and drove the excavator before the refuelling was complete when the incident happened on 28 July 2020.
Ace Demolition Services Limited and John Gilligan, of Fox Burrows Lane, Writtle, Chelmsford pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 37(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Ace Demolition Services Limited was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,731 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 24 November 2022. John Gilligan was given a 12-month community order with a requirement to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.
“This incident could have so easily been avoided. While there were a number of shortfalls, this incident ultimately occurred due a failure to keep the workers away from the excavator.
“Duty holders must ensure that individuals are segregated from vehicles and construction machinery.”HSE inspector David Tonge
Transport Safety Guidance
When considering the risks from vehicle manoeuvring, employers must ensure that vehicles have large enough windscreens (with wipers where necessary) and external mirrors to provide an all-round field of vision. It is often worthwhile adding extra mirrors to reduce blind spots for drivers. Side mirrors can allow drivers of larger vehicles to see cyclists and pedestrians alongside their vehicles and can be effective in improving visibility around the vehicle from the driving position. These mirrors are fitted to larger road-going vehicles as standard.
Drivers should not place items in the windscreen area or in the way of mirrors or monitors, where they might impede visibility from the driving position. The area of the windscreen that is kept clear by the wipers should not be obscured, and nor should the side windows. Windows and mirrors will also normally need to be kept clean and in good repair. Dirt or cracks can make windows or mirrors less effective.
Some types of vehicles (such as straddle carriers, large shovel loaders and some large quarry vehicles) often have poor visibility from the cab. Visibility can be poor to the side or front of a vehicle as well as behind and loads on vehicles can severely limit the visibility from the driving position.
Lift trucks and compact dumper vehicles in particular can have difficulty with forward visibility when they are transporting bulky loads. Employers should recognise these risks in their risk assessment and think about ways to minimise them.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) may help drivers to see clearly behind or around the vehicle. CCTV can cover most blind spots and the cost of fitting CCTV systems has fallen since the technology was first developed. Companies who have fitted CCTV have found that it can reduce the number of reversing accidents, so the systems usually pay for themselves in a few years.
Colour systems can provide a clearer image where there is little contrast (for example, outside on an overcast day). However, black-and-white systems normally provide a better image in lower light or darkness, and usually come with infra-red, which can be more effective than standard cameras at night.
Monitors should have adjustable contrast, brightness and resolution controls to make them useful in the different light conditions in which they will be used. Drivers may need to use a hood to shield any monitor from glare.
If possible, fit the camera for a CCTV system high up in the middle of the vehicle’s rear (one camera), or in the upper corners (two cameras). This will provide a greater field of vision and a better angle for the driver to judge distance and provide. It also keeps the camera clear of dust and spray, and out of the reach of thieves or vandals.
However, CCTV systems do have some limitations which employers should consider:
- If the vehicle leaves a darker area to a more strongly lit area (for example, driving out of a building) the system may need time to adjust to the brightness.
- A dirty lens will make a camera much less effective.
- Drivers may find it difficult to judge heights and distances.
Drivers should not be complacent about safety even with CCTV systems installed. They should be trained in proper use of the equipment and employers have a duty to provide such training and instruction.
Reversing alarms may be drowned out by other noise or may be so common on a busy site that pedestrians do not take any notice. It can also be hard to know exactly where an alarm is coming from, and people who are less able to hear are also at greater risk. Alarms can also disturb nearby residents. However, reversing alarms may be appropriate (based on the risk assessment) but might be most effectively used with other measures, such as warning lights.
Additional advice on transport safety can be found in the HSE Guide to workplace transport safety (HSG 136, 2014) which is available free on the website.
If you require health and safety advice or support for your business, please contact one of the Jacksons team.
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