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“No Safe System Of Work In Place” Led To Life-Changing Injuries

30th March 2015

Lack of instructions, training and safety measures by three national construction firms led to a worker losing his arm following attempts to operate a tarmac surfacing machine while carrying out road works on the A1001 in Hatfield.

The machine, known as a ‘chip spreader’ because it scatters stone chips on asphalt, had been supplied by Lafarge Aggregates Ltd (acting as Amey Lafarge). However, they had failed to provide the workers – recruited and placed on site by Ashmac Construction Ltd - with an operator’s manual or any instruction or training in operating the machine safely, including how to secure safety guards.

The severe life-changing injuries suffered by the 53-year old road worker, following his arm becoming trapped in the machine’s rotating drill arm, led to the limb being amputated and being  unable to return to work since the incident.

A subsequent investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), found all three construction companies - Amey LG Ltd, Amey Lafarge and Ashmac Construction Ltd - had failed to observe a number of critical safety requirements.

Different type of chip spreader

HSE discovered that the victim and the other road surfacing crew had not previously been formally trained in the use of the chip spreader and were only given one evening to familiarise themselves with the machine by Amey Lafarge when they started work on site six months before the accident occurred.

While Amey Lafarge did have a risk assessment and a site-specific method statement, it was found that they did not match the controls in place for the use of the chip spreader and the risk assessment described a different type of chip spreader than the machine used on site.

As a result, HSE concluded that there was “no safe system of work in place to ensure that the machine was set up and operated properly” and that its use was “restricted” to those who would have been given full instructions and training on how to operate the particular chip spreader safely.

All three firms pleaded guilty to breaches of section 3(1) the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and between them, fined a total of £180,205 plus £ 54,000 including costs.