A worker could make a claim for personal injury after he had three fingers severed at work at least partly due to his employer’s failure to comply with UK health and safety regulations.
A 27-year-old man had three fingers completely severed almost down to the palm of his hand when an accident occurred at work in 2012.
The man – who does not wish to be named for personal reasons – was working on a social housing development for his employer, Optima Foundations Ltd, when the accident occurred on 6 February 2012. The worker was loading a section of casing to be piled up when the operator of a rig mistakenly lowered a 500kg weight onto his right hand, resulting in the middle three fingers on his right hand being completely severed down to the bone.
The Health and Safety Executive were notified of the accident and started an investigation. This investigation concluded that there had been seriously health and safety breaches and that Optima Foundations Limited should be prosecuted for a failure to comply with UK health and safety laws.
The case came before the Lincolnshire Magistrates’ Court on 10 July 2013. The Magistrates’ Court heard that the HSE investigation had concluded that there wasn’t a safe system of signals or instructions that would indicate that the person doing the piling was ready for the weight to come down, which at least partly resulted in the injury. What actually happened was that the rig operator would simply watch the person doing the piling to judge when the correct time to lower the weight wass. There wasn’t therefore a safe system of work that had been identified or complied with.
The Magistrates’ Court found Optima Foundations Ltd guilty of single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (after the company had pleaded guilty to the breaches). This resulted in a fine of £15,000 and an order to pay the prosecution’s costs totalling £8,171.
HSE inspector Mr Martin Giles stated after the prosecution: “Optima Foundations did not provide the injured person and his supervisor with adequate information, instruction and training, and there were defects in the functioning of the controls of the piling machine”
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Ensuring that there is a safe system of work is one of the key duties of an employer. If the employer fails in this obligation then this can be costly to both the injured party and the employer.
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