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Working at height – use the right equipment

ISI Posted  November 30th 2015

Construction sites are of course full of hazards and here at ISI, we spend a lot of time inspecting lifting equipment to make sure that it is appropriate for the task, and is correctly position and installed, in accordance with LOLER regulations. Working at height is a particular hazard, and over the years we’ve heard many stories about excavator buckets being used as mobile work platforms – they aren’t designed to carry people and should never be used in this way.

Just this week, St Albans magistrates have heard yet another example of why excavator buckets should not be used as substitute mobile elevating work platforms. On a house building site in Hertfordshire, site manager Edwin Heaney failed to take reasonable care whilst raising up a colleague in an excavator bucket, in order to cut a protruding piece of steel that was out of reach. The bucket suddenly jolted downwards throwing the worker off balance. He managed to throw the grinder clear and grabbed onto the adjacent wall to stop his fall. The worker suffered a number of strain injuries, in particular to his right shoulder.

Under the provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers have a duty to provide safe equipment and systems of work. In this case, a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Edwin Heaney had failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others, the excavator was not suitable equipment for lifting the worker and the bucket attachment was an inadequate work platform. Mr Heaney was fined £1,000, with costs of £3,130 for a breach of Section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

LOLER and PUWER Inspection of Excavators

Safe use of cranes

Another case was heard this week, relating to failure to provide safe systems of work. At Sheffield Crown court, a company specialising in metal and alloy products was heavily fined after a worker was killed when he was struck by a load on a moving crane. An investigation by the HSE found that the company had not reviewed risk assessments and safe systems of work for nine years. Many employees who operated cranes had received no refresher training for between 6-10 years and the training programme for new starters was inadequate. ATO Speciality Materials Ltd was fined £160,000 with costs of £72,321 after pleading guilty to offences under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2005

Using the right lifting equipment safely is essential in all businesses, and of course plant and equipment needs formal inspection on a regular basis – for impartial advice, contact us.

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