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A difficult lesson for us all from rural industry

A difficult lesson for us all when handling or manoeuvring items that are bulky or unwieldy is contained in the news story we came across today:

The owners of a farm have been fined after an employee lost part of his leg when a wall panel trapped him during the build of a silage pit.

On 7 November 2017, William Thomson, who had worked at Flatfield Farm Steadings for around 10 years, was asked to help the farm’s partnership manager with the erection of a silage pit. He’d been experiencing difficulties in placing the panels in the correct position.

Following considerations on how to solve the problem, William stood in front of a 1.3-tonne wall panel. As the panel moved to the left it started to fall. The 33-year-old tried to run away, but did not manage to get completely clear of the panel. It trapped his left leg and foot.

Despite several operations, doctors were unable to save his leg and he was forced to have a below-knee amputation.

Investigators told Dundee Sheriff Court there had been over-reliance on the knowledge of the farm manager and no risk assessment had been completed for the job.

Farm owners A&P Grewar admitted failing to carry out any risk assessment and being responsible for its employee’s injury. It was ordered to pay a fine of £4,000.

All too often we see instances where the interface of people and lifting items has gone badly wrong, in very preventable circumstances. The human behaviour of wanting to step in and guide or handle a suspended load is difficult to contain however it significantly increases both the likelihood and severity of an incident such as this which simply would not have happened if adequate planning and control of risk was in place.

Daily we are advising our subscribers on complicated operations that include the handling of large items from full service professional lifting companies to heritage construction companies that operate well off the beaten track in Scotland’s wild landscape.

We are here to help you in making sure this type of incident doesn’t happen to someone you care for or employ, please get in touch and we will help you manage those hazards, learn from this difficult lesson.