Council heavily fined after worker suffers severe injuries on the job

by Redmans Solicitors on December 20, 2013

A Scottish local authority has been heavily fined by the Sheriff Court after a worker suffered a severe injury in the course of his employment in January 2011.

South Lanarkshire Council was fined £50,000 after one of its workers suffered a serious injury to his abdomen in an accident at work on 13 January 2011.

On the day in question Mr Derek Maitland, 37, was working as part of a three-man crew on a glass recycling vehicle in Glen Turret, East Kilbride. Mr Maitland was driving the vehicle but work came to a halt when the side-lifter on the lorry became jammed. He therefore unplugged the side lifter’s control unit from its berth outside the cabin and took it inside the cab, as per procedure. A short while later Mr Maitland exited the cab and re-connected the control panel. However, the engine appears to have been left running and this meant that the control panel had power to it at the time it was reconnected. The side lifter’s bucket therefore lowered on to Mr Maitland, crushing his abdomen against the lorry. This resulted in extremely serious injuries to Mr Maitland, including having to have most of his colon and small bowel removed, and having to have extensive repair surgery on damaged arteries. As a result of the accident Mr Maitland is now unable to at and digest normally and has to be fed intravenously. After a period of time off work sick, though, Mr Maitland has subsequently returned to employment. It is not currently known whether Mr Maitland has or will claim personal injury against the Council.

The Health and Safety Executive were notified of the accident and took steps to investigate. This investigation found that a combination of factors had caused or contributed to the accident, including a failure to carry out an adequate risk assessment, a failure to put in place a safe system of work, and a failure to provide adequate information or training to staff. The HSE therefore recommended that the Council be prosecuted for health and safety offences.

The case came before the Hamilton Sheriffs Court on 18 December 2013. South Lanarkshire Council pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was a result fined £50,000.

Neither the Council nor its criminal defence solicitors appear to have commented after the sentencing.

HSE inspector Eve Macready stated after the sentencing: “South Lanarkshire Council understood the risks of working with such vehicles but although supervisors were aware of this developing practice relating to the removal of the pendant controllers, they did nothing to discourage it. The systems of work in place should have triggered activity to stop this practice or review existing arrangements.”

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors and can help those injured at work to claim personal injury

Please note that Redmans Solicitors were not associated in any way with this case

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