Local authority fined for failings that led to amputation of road worker

Local authority fined for failings that led to amputation of road worker

The road chipping machine (Image: Crown Office)

South Lanarkshire Council has been fined £90,000 for health and safety failings which left a worker with severe injuries.

The local authority pled guilty to a charge under health and safety legislation at Hamilton Sheriff Court after a road worker suffered a traumatic amputation when his arm was trapped in a road chipping machine on the morning of 22 February 2019.

The procurator fiscal told the court that on that morning, on the B7078 road near Junction 11 of the M74 motorway, a road worker and a colleague were setting up the machine.

Detritus in the machine, which should have been removed at the end of the previous day, had to be cleared before they could use the machine.

The then 38-year-old road worker started the machine to clear it. This caused an auger to start turning to agitate and remove the debris. He spotted some debris and moved the guard (which was not fixed by the bolt) and put his gloved hand in to clear it.

The screw caught his hand and pulled it into the machine and his arm was trapped. Emergency services were contacted and all three attended, initiating a major incident.

Firefighters had to dismantle the machine to free the man who was airlifted to hospital.

The Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the mesh guard intended to prevent access to the rotating auger had not been fixed in place. Expert opinion was that even if the fixings had been attached it was still reasonably foreseeable that they may not be used and therefore a risk could still exist.

The injured roadworker had no formal training on the machine and his knowledge came from on-the-job training and experience.

The authority accepted that between 5 September 2018 and 22 February 2019 they had failed to provide and maintain plant and a system of work that was safe and without risks to employees using the road chipping machine. They also accepted that they didn’t provide the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision.

They also failed to provide a system of work for the moving and cleaning by hand of any internal components and ensure that the rotating auger had a guard fixed in place to prevent contact with it.

Speaking after the sentencing, Debbie Carroll, who leads on health and safety investigations for the COPFS, said: “This accident could have been avoided if the systems of work in place at the time had been more robust in ensuring workers were protected from harm from their use of this machine.

“By failing to maintain plant and provide the appropriate training, South Lanarkshire Council left their employees in unacceptable risk.

“This prosecution should remind other employers that failing to keep their employees safe can have serious consequences and they will be held accountable for this failure.”

Share icon
Share this article: