Two companies have been fined after a worker suffered serious head injuries when he fell during loading operations.
Rehau Ltd, based in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd produces extruded plastic products including window frames and insulated pipe. Mold Magistrates Court heard that on 2nd August 2013, Rehau’s haulage contractor Hughes Specialist Transport Ltd, was jointly engaged in loading large coils of ‘Rauvitherm’ insulated pipe onto a curtain-sided lorry with a fork lift truck.
The lorry driver, aged 20 at the time of the accident, had only recently been employed by Hughes Specialist Transport Ltd.
Due to historic damage to the coils when loaded flat, a method evolved whereby the coils were loaded ‘on edge.’ This required the visiting driver to be in close proximity to the suspended load, to place chocks of timber for support, before the load could be secured.
On the day of the accident, the Rehau fork lift truck driver lifted a coil to load it onto the lorry. As the visiting driver positioned himself to place the chocks, the load toppled, carrying the driver onto the floor of the yard at Rehau’s site at Tanygrisiau, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd.
The driver suffered several fractures to his skull, an extradural haematoma and required an operation to remove a blood clot.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and determined that the specific task had not been risk assessed. There was also inadequate co-operation and communication between the two parties for this high-risk operation.
HSE guidance (A Guide to Workplace Transport Safety HSG 136), states that at shared workplaces, the site operator or main employer should normally take responsibility for co-ordinating health and safety measures.
Post-accident, Rehau Ltd devised the solution of constructing purpose-built stillages to load the coils at ground level, before loading them onto the lorry flatbed, thus avoiding the need to work at height.
At Caernarfon Crown Court where the matter was referred for sentencing, Rehau Ltd of Hill Court, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire admitted breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £60,000.
Hughes Specialist Transport Ltd of Gwaith Setts Madog Quarry, Manod Road, Blaenau Ffestiniog Gwynedd, admitted breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £6,000.
The companies were ordered to pay an equal share of the total costs £8,368.