Jewson lorry driver fined after brick clamp accident

Published:  17 October, 2011

YEOVIL: An experienced lorry loader operator working for Jewson has been fined after another worker was crushed in the brick clamp of the lorry loader, leaving him with serious internal injuries.

Yeovil Magistrates' Court heard how, in November last year Mark Pratten, 53, a lorry loader operator working for Jewson builders' merchants attempted to use a brick clamp on a lorry crane to lift Peter Hoy, 47, a self-employed general builder, from the roof of a cabin while he was collecting building materials from a construction site at Mayfield House, High Street, Rode.

The pallets they were collecting were behind a wall and it was not possible to pick them up normally with the lorry crane.  Mr Hoy climbed onto the roof of the cabin to guide the crane into place and to get down quickly, Pratten tried to lift him with the grab of the crane. Mr Hoy walked between the arms of the clamp, which was at waist height, in preparation to gain a foot or handhold. As he did so, Pratten attempted to move the arms but inadvertently operated the clamp button.

The arms clamped Mr Hoy's waist, fracturing his pelvis and causing crush-related internal injuries, including nerve damage. His injuries are so severe that he is still off work.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that Mr Pratten fell far short of the appropriate standard required of a lorry loader operator in attempting to use the lorry loader in an unsafe manner and lift Hoy with the clamp. This was in spite of the fact that Mr Pratten was trained to use loaders and had more than 20 years' experience in that line of work. He was also familiar with the controls on the machine he was using and aware of its capabilities, including the fact that the brick clamp was not suitable for lifting people.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE inspector Helena Tinton said: "Even if the clamp had not been activated, attempting to lift Mr Hoy down from the cabin roof with a brick clamp was in no way safe.

"Two people's lives have been seriously affected in this incident: Mr Hoy is still suffering from health problems related to his internal injuries and does not yet know when he will be able to return to work.  Mr Pratten has lost his job after this action which went against all his training and years of experience."

Mark Pratten pleaded guilty to breaching Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £1500 with £1000 costs.

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