Confusion in communication is a common cause of accidents.
It seems to have played a central role in a serious incident on the coast of the Moray Firth, recently reported on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.
A worker suffered facial and hand injuries as a result of an accident in Wick Harbour in January 2013
Brian Reid (‘R’), who was employed by a subcontractor, was lowered into the hold of a ship in a man riding basket lifted by a crane. Wind turbine components were to be unloaded from the ship. R was removing sea fastenings to enable the unloading to take place. Hugh Simpson (Contractors) Limited (‘HSCL’) was in charge of the lifting operation.
Neither the basket nor R could be seen by the crane operator whilst R was in the hold of the ship
The employee of HSCL who was in charge of lifting operations on the day was on the deck of the ship to provide a communication link between R and the crane operator by means of hand signals. After R had removed one of the sea fastenings, he indicated to his colleague that he needed the basket to be moved in order to reach another fastening. Suddenly, however, the basket tipped up, throwing him onto the hold floor from a height of about 30 feet. He suffered multiple fractures to his face and nose and broke his left hand.
The accident was investigated by HSE
A number of failings on the part of HSCL came to light, as a result:
- The man riding basket was unsuitable to be used with a crane.
- The basket should only have been used in conjunction with a forklift truck.
- The risk assessment prepared by HSCL made no mention of situations where people would be lifted in a basket attached to a mobile crane – i.e. there was no relevant risk assessment in place.
HSCL were prosecuted at Wick Sheriff Court in Spring 2016
Regulation 8 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 deals with requirements for the organisation of lifting operations. It defines a “lifting operation” as an operation concerned with the lifting or lowering of a load. It requires every employer to ensure that every lifting operation involving lifting equipment is:
- properly planned by a competent person;
- appropriately supervised; and
- carried out in a safe manner.
HSCL pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 8 of the 1998 Regulations. They were fined £26,000.
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