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Guard rail failure leads to near fatal fall for worker

A BLACK Country waste-management firm has been fined £12,000 after a guard rail gave way resulting in a worker falling nearly 3m, narrowly missing a crushing machine.

AB Waste Management Ltd, based in Amblecote, Stourbridge, pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The company was also ordered to pay £1,836 in costs.

Walsall & Aldridge Magistrates Court heard how, on 16 June 2009, the worker was on his second day working at Junction Works, Darlaston, when he was cleaning a crushing machine. During the task a guard rail gave way and he fell almost 3m to the ground.

As a result of the fall, the victim’s spine was broken in two places and he suffered several deep cuts to his head that required skin grafts. Although he was subsequently discharged from hospital, he has had to return on a regular basis for check-ups.

Following the case, HSE inspector Gardabil Singh Tiwana said the worker had been seriously let down by his employers, who had failed to maintain the safety measures that were supposed to protect him.

‘The employee could easily have been killed if he’d fallen into the crushing machine when it was in operation,’ said Mr Tiwana. ‘It’s all very well installing a guard rail and other precautions, but if they are not maintained and repaired properly then they are useless.

‘All companies need to ensure that guards supplied for their work activities are fit for purpose, and if the machine has a maintenance log, that the log is kept up to date.’

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