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Construction Company Learns Cherry Picker Safety the Hard Way

May 21st, 2012

Galliford Try Construction pays the price for poor planning and lack of supervision

A construction company has been prosecuted after a cherry picker operator was catapulted 4m into the path of a moving bus on London’s Euston Road.

Two workers from Galliford Try Construction Limited were working on an apartment near St Pancras Renaissance Hotels and Chambers on the 4th of March 2011. As the cherry picket was being reversed onto Euston Road, a double-decker had just turned the corner and struck the operator platform, catapulted the driver from the platform onto the tarmac in front of the moving bus. Amazingly he was pushed along by the bus, found under the front nearside with serious head, arm, pelvis and leg injuries, but returned to work earlier this year, despite the severe injuries.

The construction company, of Uxbridge, Middlesex, were fined £12, 000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of over £16, 000 after pleading guilty to two serious breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Health and Safety Executive’s investigation concluded that the incident could have been avoided if the firm had fulfilled their duties to properly plan and supervise safe work. The hearing took place on the 11th of April and HSE Inspector Paul Hems said:

“This worker narrowly escaped death after a series of events which almost seem unbelievable but in fact could have proved fatal.

“A 14-metres long slow-moving machine, not suitable for use on a public highway, was moved against the flow of traffic on to a three-lane road. Both workers were without high visibility clothing and there were no visible warning lights on the cherry-picker despite it being early morning and still dark which made it, and the men, effectively invisible to the bus driver.”

Despite the risks of using cherry pickets being well-known, the company failed to ensure safe movement of the vehicle between different compounds, and also failed to provide adequate levels of instruction and information to their employees.

Mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), cherry pickets, scissor lifts and vehicle-mounted booms provide a safe way of working at height, allowing workers to reach high tasks quickly and easily. They have guard rails round the edge of the platform to prevent workers from falling off the platform, and can be used indoors and out.

When using MEWPs construction companies are advised to check ground conditions to ensure there is no risk of the device becoming unstable or overturning. Operators should be fully trained and competent, and should check to ensure that the MEWP cannot be caught on any protruding overhead hazards including scaffolding, trees and power lines. They should also assess the risk of passing traffic and take measures to prevent the risk of collisions.

Alan Cairns writes on a number of subjects including cherry picker hire and health and safety

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