Construction Enquirer News Court hears how hydraulic breaker became detached from quick hitch and landed on worker in trench

Groundworks and civils specialist Hovington Limited has been fined £34,000 after a worker lost his leg below the knee.

The victim was struck by a falling piece of plant machinery while working on a site in Rotherham.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 4 February 2019, groundworkers, including the injured person, were breaking out ground using a 13 tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch, as part of trench work to install new drainage.

The breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator. The breaker fell, narrowly missing one ground worker, and landed on the injured worker’s right foot. He sustained injuries which led to amputation of his right leg below the knee.

An HSE investigation found that the company failed to ensure that a safe method of work was in place when working in the vicinity of an excavator, there was no defined segregation between people and plant, and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure the machine was isolated before pedestrians enter the working zone of the excavator.

The company also failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments to minimise the risk of attachments falling onto pedestrians.

Hovington Limited of Rochdale pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay £1,935.84 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy said: “This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”

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