Fine issued after company pleads guilty to safety breach

A hard-landscaping company has been fined £32,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Gallagher Groundworks, based in Crieff, was fined for safety failings after 20-year-old Gregor Steele from Perthshire, a worker on the construction of Griffin Wind Farm in Perth and Kinross, had a leg amputated. He suffered severe injuries when his left leg was crushed between a tractor pulling a heavy water bowser and the bucket of a loading shovel on 3 September 2010.

An investigation into the incident by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) led to a prosecution of Gallagher Groundworks at Perth Sheriff Court on 19 December 2013. The court was told that between 13 August and 3 September 2010, the company failed to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the work being carried out and failed to ensure that machinery was appropriate and properly maintained and that safety equipment was fully operative.

Steele had positioned the tractor to empty the bowser and used the handbrake. The parking brake had been disabled by Gallagher's mechanic around five months previously. As Steele stood between the tractor and the loading shovel, the tractor was dragged backwards by the weight of the bowser, pinning him between the two.

The HSE concluded that Gallagher failed to ensure that the tractor was capable of safely towing the weight of the loaded bowser or ensure its parking lock braking system was working correctly. The tractor had a maximum towable mass of three tonnes, well below the weight of the full bowser, estimated at around 12 tonnes.

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