Recycling Worker Suffers Life Changing Injuries

Council Fined After Worker Is Crushed By Side Lifter Vehicle

19.12.2013

A 37-year-old man suffered life-changing injuries when he was trapped between a lifting hoist and his vehicle.

Derek Maitland of Glasgow had most of his colon and small bowel removed following the incident in January 2011.

Although he has since returned to work, the recycling plant employee can no longer eat and digest food in the normal manner. He must now be fed intravenously.

The incident occurred in Glen Turret, East Kilbride as the man attempted to reconnect the pendant control unit to the side lifter vehicle he was driving.

As he did so, the hoist activated and lowered, crushing him against the machine.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that South Lanarkshire Council had not covered every detail when conducting a risk assessment for this particular job.

While the local authority had stipulated that workers should not attempt to fix faulty machinery, there was no specific mention of the removal or reconnection of pendant controllers. This job had been done in the past when the recycling vehicle suddenly became jammed.

The HSE also found the council had not provided adequate information, supervision or training to staff. It has since reviewed its working practices in order to avoid a repeat occurrence.

South Lanarkshire Council was fined £50,000 after admitting to three breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Following the hearing at Hamilton Sheriff Court, HSE inspector Eve Macready said Mr Maitland was fortunate not to have been killed, although he has been left with injuries that will change his life forever.

"Only time will tell what complications may arise in relation to his medical condition," she commented.

"South Lanarkshire Council understood the risks of working with such vehicles but although supervisors were aware of this developing practice relating to the removal of the pendant controllers, they did nothing to discourage it."

The recycling and waste management industry remains one of the most dangerous in the UK, with HSE figures showing that 12 people died in occupational accidents throughout the sector in 2012-13.