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Accident compensation news 29/11/2006

Companies prosecuted after employee loses leg

Two companies - F O'Malley and Sons Ltd of Brighouse and GMI Construction Group PLC - have been fined 6,327 and 4,519 respectively after an industrial workplace accident in which an employee lost one of his legs.

The disastrous accident at work involved a dumper truck which overturned at a work site in Barnsley in May 2004, crushing the worker's limb underneath. Mark O'Connor from Bradford was operating the truck when the work accident occurred.

The companies pleaded guilty to charges laid out in the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)'s guidelines for workplace safety that employers must adhere to. Under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act 1974, failure to ensure the safety of workers on site is in breach of EU regulations. The maximum fine is 20,000.

In section 3 of the HSW Act it is stated that "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

HSE inspector David Stewart said: "Construction is one of the most dangerous industries with 71 people killed in 2004/5 - 32 per cent of all workers' deaths - as a result of construction industry. Many more have been injured or made ill.

"Workplace transport is a key concern with dumper trucks involved in around a third of construction transport accidents. Overturning on slopes and at the edge of excavations and embankments is one of the main causes.

"Anyone involved with workplace transport should take care not to underestimate the risks of operating such heavy machinery in conditions where the ground may be unstable. Principal contractors and sub contractors alike have a duty to ensure that methods of work are safe by ensuring that risks are assessed during planning of the work and that adequate safety measures are in place."

It is hoped that the financial penalties handed out as a result of the tragic accident at work will force other employers to protect their workers better against the risk of suffering serious personal injuries in industrial accidents.