Plant hire company fined after worker falls from basket

HSEA plant hire company has been fined after an employee sustained serious injuries from falling out of a man riding basket at Wick Harbour.

Hugh Simpson (Contractors) Limited, of The Harbour, Wick, Caithness pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. It was fined £26,000.

Wick Sheriff Court heard how the company was contracted to unload Deugro Danmark ships once they had docked at Wick Harbour on 07 January 2013.

The company provided its own equipment for unloading and was in overall charge of the lifting operations. In addition, it subcontracted JGC Engineering and Technical Services Limited (‘JGC’) to remove sea fastenings from the ships’ holds.

An employee of JGC, Brian Reid, was lowered into the hold in a lifting basket attached to a crane. One of Hugh Simpson’s workers, who was in charge of lifting operations on the day, was on the deck of the ship to communicate with both Mr Reid and the crane operator.

As neither the basket nor Mr Reid was visible to the crane operator while he was in the ship’s hold, the driver had to rely on communications from the deck.

After cutting one of the sea fastenings and using hand signals indicating the basket needed to be moved to reach the other fastening, the basket tipped upside down and Mr Reid was thrown to the hold floor.

His injuries included multiple complex fractures to his face, nose, and fractures to his left hand.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the operational plans and risk assessment prepared by Hugh Simpson did not include lifting people in a basket attached to a mobile crane.

In addition, HSE concluded the basket was not suitable to be used in conjunction with a crane and should only have been used with a fork lift truck.

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