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Firm had ‘cavalier’ attitude to safety

  • 16 April 2013
  • By Roger Brown

A company and its boss have been fined after a worker narrowly escaped being crushed by a collapsing set of 10 stone slabs that fell from a truck.

In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told how Granite Express employee Radoslaw Samson, 24, was on the vehicle’s trailer with a colleague at the firm’s workshop in Croydon in February 2012, having removed the packaging supporting the two-tonne slabs so each could be taken off individually by a forklift truck.

As he altered a clamp at the end of a lifting arm attached to the forklift while standing in front of the slabs, they began to topple.

The falling slabs hit Samson, who suffered a broken leg and severe bruising. He was on crutches for six months and remained out of work for 10.

In June 2010, the HSE had served a prohibition notice during a routine inspection at Granite, halting further use of the lifting arm as it was not fit for purpose.

Then-director Przemyslaw Zalecki, 37, was given advice to devise a safe system for unloading stone slabs.

Although the firm complied with the prohibition notice, after Samson’s injury the HSE found the lifting arm was back in use, the forklift had not been maintained, and there had been no training.

The company and Zalecki also failed to implement a safe working method and to provide employees with instruction or supervision on the day.

Granite Express – which went into liquidation in November 2012 – was fined £2,000 and £5,000 costs after admitting two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Zalecki was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty.

HSE inspector Jane Wolfenden said: “Despite the risk of serious personal injury in the handling and moving of stone slabs, and advice to devise a safe system for unloading them from a vehicle, the defendants failed to respond. They even permitted continued use of a lifting attachment subject to a prohibition notice.”


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