An article on Ppconstructionsafety.com discussed the risks associated with unguarded machinery on construction sites. The incident involved a construction boss who was well aware of machinery guards missing yet failed to take action.
A contractor has been fined for an incident during which a worker’s lower leg had to be amputated after he slipped into an unguarded concrete mixer. The worker was part of a group engaging in road construction work sealing off a pavement when the incident occurred, now his life will never be the same again. Investigators said that the mixer should not have been used once the guard had been removed.
The injured worker slipped as he was climbing from a flatbed lorry which was parked next to the mixer. The worker put his left leg down to steady himself and accidently entered the unguarded opening of the mixer as its moving paddles severely injured his lower left leg, consequently it had to be amputated at the knee.
This excerpt taken from PPConstructionsafety.com explains further:
HSE found the guard over the rotating paddles in the petrol-powered mixer had been removed the day before the incident and not replaced.
Incident will have a huge impact on the rest of his life
Colin Boon of West Street, Biddulph, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a breach of Section 3(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £6,700 and ordered to pay £8,000 in costs.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Alastair Choudhury said:
“This was an entirely preventable incident and a young man has sustained an injury that will have a huge impact on the rest of his life. Colin Boon failed in his duties to these workers. He was aware the guard had been removed and took no action to prevent use of the machine on the 13 September 2013.
Guarding on machinery is there for a reason – to prevent people getting hurt. If it is removed, absent or defective, employers are putting employees and others at risk of injury or death. No commercial pressure to take these risks is justified and the potential costs of incidents far outweigh any savings in time or money.
Machinery such as mixers are a hazard like any other and as the law dictates hazards on construction sites, once identified need to be assessed and if possible eliminated. If the hazard cannot be eliminated, the risk associated with the hazard should be minimised. One of the ways of minimising the risks involved with mixers is ensuring that appropriate guarding is present, failure to do so is a breach of duty, even in Oz.
Although the employer in the story above suffered a financial loss, the real loser here is the employee who now has to go through life with only one fully functional leg. Every aspect of his life has changed and his quality of life will never be the same. However he was fortunate to have escaped with his life, others may not be as lucky.