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Employer sentenced after worker struck by excavator

Prosecution

Sole trader receives suspended prison sentence after employee’s leg crushed by tracked excavator

A SOLE trader who operated a construction and demolition waste-recycling business has received a suspended prison sentence after a worker sustained serious crush injuries when he was struck from behind by a 13.5-tonne tracked excavator.

Manchester Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 11 February 2019, the 50-year-old employee was manually sorting demolition waste in the yard of the waste-recycling premises of William Leeson (trading as W. Leeson & Son), in Walkden, Greater Manchester, when he was struck by the excavator.

The machine reversed over the lower part of the worker’s left leg as he bent down to pick up some waste from the ground, resulting in life-changing injuries that have prevented his return to work and left him struggling to cope independently with daily activities. He is currently awaiting a below-the-knee amputation of his left leg.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was no safe system of work in place at the site to effectively segregate pedestrians and vehicles, thereby ensuring the pedestrian pickers were always a safe distance from the moving vehicles.

Mr Leeson pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to 17 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £9,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jackie Worrall said: ‘This injury could have easily been prevented had Mr Leeson ensured that effective segregation of pedestrians and vehicles was in place.

‘This case is a reminder to all employers to properly assess the risks arising from workplace transport and to put in place effective control measures to minimize these risks. Most importantly, where vehicles and pedestrians operate within the same workspace, it is essential that there is effective segregation at all times.’

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