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Worker could make personal injury claim after concrete manufacturer’s health and safety failings

by Redmans Solicitors on June 25, 2013

A worker at a concrete factory in Ayrshire, Scotland, could claim personal injury against his former employer after he was seriously hurt in a workplace accident.

Mr Christopher Fay worked for Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd in Mains Road, Beith, before his accident occurred on 18 January 2010. On the day in question Mr Fay was standing next to a machine when another of Hillhouse’s employees turned it on remotely. Mr Fay was caught unawares by this and his glove was trapped in the machine. This resulted in his right arm being drawn into the machine and being crushed between the rollers of the machine. As a result Mr Fay was off work for a considerable period of time. He has now returned to work but not for the same employer.

The Health and Safety Executive was subsequently notified of the accident and took steps to investigate. This investigation resulted in a recommendation that Hillhouse Precast Concrete be prosecuted for serious health and safety breaches, namely breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The matter came before the Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on 24 June 2013. The court was told that approximately a month before the accident took place the handle of the machine that injured Mr Fay started to leak hydraulic fluid. As a result the machine was fixed and a new handle was installed. However, no-one noticed that the new handle that was installed was capable of being left on the “on” position whereas the old handle had not. The HSE investigation therefore concluded that the company had failed to recognise that the “hold to run” control switch on the machine was a safety feature of the device and the company had therefore failed in its duty to appropriately maintain the machine or repair the machine with the proper switch.

Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. It was therefore fined £10,000 but was not – as is usual – ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs.

The criminal defence solicitors for Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd did not comment on the judgment.

Marc Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case that: “The injury to Mr Fay was a pure mistake on the company’s behalf but even so they still ended up with a heavy fine. It’s imperative that firms – whatever they do – take steps to maintain work equipment properly as a failure to do so can result in serious injuries to workers and sometimes even death”.

A Health and Safety Executive inspector, Mr Mark Carroll, stated that “As a result [of the accident] Mr Fay was badly injured and permanently scarred. Hillhouse Precast Concrete Ltd has introduced measures and bought new equipment to avoid a repeat of the incident, but it could have been prevented by better consideration of how the repair work affected the safe operation of the roller”.

Redmans offer specialist employment law advice from their employment law solicitors in London

If you think that you’ve been injured at work then you may wish to submit a grievance against your employer. You can do this by downloading a grievance letter template and submitting this to your employer.

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