Firm fined after trainee crushed during building cladding operations

Crossgill Construction Ltd has been fined after a worker was injured when he became trapped between the basket of a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) and a steel rail on a Newcastle construction project in February 2013.

The injured 20-year-old was working as a trainee steel erector installing the cladding rails to a building extension. He fractured his jaw in three places, suffered a severe cut on his cheek plus other cuts to the face and a bruised shoulder. He was in hospital for two days following the incident.

Newcastle Magistrates heard the trainee, working with another steel erector, had installed a fifth rail when the bottom of the basket of his cherrypicker became lodged on the steel rail below. It suddenly came free and “shot upwards” trapping him between the basket rail and the newly-installed steel rail above.

HSE found that the work was not properly plan and manage. The court was told the steelwork had been stored on the ground outside the main frame of the extension, which prevented both workers from positioning their cherrypickers outside the frame.

The rails were also raised into position by being lifted, unsecured, on the basket of one of the cherrypickers, and then rested, again unsecured, onto cleats on the steel frame. The workers then had to move their cherrypickers into a position that enabled them to bolt the rails into place.

The company had failed to consider the risks of workers being trapped or crushed between the basket of the cherrypickers and other objects and had failed to identify measures to avoid that risk as a result.

Significant number of crushing incidents

Crossgill Construction Ltd, of Consett, was fined £6,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. The company was also ordered to pay £865.30 costs.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Andrea Robbins said:

“This incident could easily have been prevented if both cherrypickers had been positioned outside the frame of the extension.

Instead a young worker was badly injured and could have been killed because Crossgill Construction Ltd failed to plan and manage the work to ensure it was carried out safely.

When used safely, mobile elevated work platforms, or cherrypickers, can significantly reduce the risk of injuries from falls from height, but in recent years there has been a significant number of incidents in which workers have been crushed against fixtures or other obstacles, including several fatalities.

Extra care therefore needs to be taken if such equipment is used to manoeuvre through several layers of steelwork as there is a risk of the operator being trapped should the boom or basket strike the frame.”

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