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14th July 2017
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Safety failures at Granite Exress, Croydon, led to worker's injury
A South London businessman and his company have been prosecuted for safety breaches after a worker narrowly escaped being crushed by a collapsing load of stone slabs. The two-tonne set of 10 slabs fell from the side of a lorry as workmen were trying to unload them at a workshop owned by Granite Express in Beddington Lane, Croydon, last year.
Employee Radoslaw Samson, 24, was on the trailer with a colleague having removed the packaging supporting the slabs so each could be removed 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. Both men leapt from the side of the trailer but the falling slabs hit Mr Samson. He suffered a broken leg and severe bruising to his right side. He was on crutches for six months and remained out of work for 10. He did not return to work at Granite Express.
The Health & Safety Executive investigated the incident and prosecuted Granite Express, which went into liquidation last November, and former director Przemyslaw Zalecki, 37, of Graham Road, Mitcham, for joint safety failings.
Westminster magistrates were told yesterday that HSE had served a prohibition notice in June 2010 during a routine inspection at Granite Express halting further use of the lifting arm as it was not fit for purpose. Mr Zalecki, then director of the company, was given specific advice to carry out proper risk assessments and devise a safe system of work for unloading stone slabs from vehicles. Although the firm complied with the prohibition notice, HSE found after Mr Samson's injury that the same lifting arm was back in use. The investigation also identified that the forklift had not been serviced or maintained, and there had been no operator training. In addition, the company and Mr Zalecki had failed to implement a safe method of work and to provide employees with instruction or supervision on the day.
Granite Express, c/o the liquidator address in Brighton Road, Croydon, was fined a total of £2,000 with £5,000 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act l974.Przemyslaw Zalecki was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two similar breaches of the Act.
After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jane Wolfenden said:
"A young man was very seriously injured because of the cavalier attitude tor safety by Mr Zalecki and his company, Granite Express. Bearing in mind the weight of these stone slabs, it is fortunate that this was not a double fatality. Despite the high risk of serious personal injury involved in the handling and moving of stone slabs being well known in the industry, and despite specific advice to devise a safe system of work for unloading them from a vehicle, the defendants failed to respond. The attitude towards health and safety was so poor that the company even permitted the continued use of a lifting attachment that had been subject to a prohibition notice.
"HSE will not hesitate to take action against either companies or their directors whose approach to the wellbeing of their employees fall so well below accepted standards."
29th March 2013