Company fined after wheel of industrial vehicle falls onto worker's feet

A company in Port Talbot, West Glamorgan, has been fined £67,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,929.70 after an apprentice was injured at work when the wheel of a digger fell on him on 8th April 2016.

Swansea Magistrates' Court heard how the worker was replacing the air-filled wheels on the digger with foam wheels, in order that the digger could be used on a recycling site, when a loose 400kg wheel struck him, breaking bones in both his feet.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to carry out any assessment of the required operations, nor had it trained workers on wheel handling. In addition, there was no equipment available for safe handling of wheels.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Manual Handling Regulations 1992 (MHR), which state in Regulation 4 (Duties of Employers) that so far as is reasonably practicable, an employer must avoid the need for his employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of their being injured.

Where this is not reasonably practicable an employer must minimise the risk of injury to his employees by making a suitable and sufficient assessment of all such manual handling operations to be undertaken, taking appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury to employees undertaking any such manual handling operations to the lowest level reasonably practicable, providing employees who are undertaking any such manual handling operations with general indications and, where it is reasonably practicable to do so, precise information on –

  • the weight of each load, and
  • the heaviest side of any load whose centre of gravity is not positioned centrally.

After the hearing, an HSE inspector stated that the incident could have been prevented had the company used a mechanical wheel handler costing less than £700. The need for this equipment would have been apparent if a proper assessment had been carried out prior to the task being implemented.

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor

Howard Willis, Personal injury solicitor