Broken or fractured bones are an all too common consequence of work related accidents, leading to untold suffering for the victims and, in more serious cases, serious restrictions on the types of work they are able to carry out in the future.
Broken bones can be caused by many different types of accidents, including slips, trips and falls, crushing incidents, falls from heights, or inadequately guarded machinery. Sadly, many of the accidents causing these injuries are preventable and are a direct consequence of employers failing to ensure the safety of their workers.
In one case recently prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), a worker at a building materials firm sustained two broken legs when he was hit by a falling piece of metal track.
He was working with others to clean the area around a metal skip track, which had been lifted into the air by a hoist to allow cleaning underneath.
The hoist jammed in the raised position and as the worker attempted to free it using a manual ratchet to pull down on the hoist, the hook gave way and the track suddenly fell, hitting his legs. He was in hospital for a week and unable to work for six months.
Inspectors from the HSE found that the company had committed a number of safety breaches; including failing to adequately maintain the hoist or provide a safe system of work should the hoist fail.
The company was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £10,043 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
In a separate incident, a contractor’s failure to provide adequate scaffolding led to a worker fracturing his skull and breaking his back after he fell from a roof.
The 40-year-old, who was an experienced roofer, also suffered neck injuries and a fractured pelvis and subsequently had to have a kidney removed.
The incident occurred when the man fainted while working on the roof. He then fell eight metres to the ground below because the scaffolding in place where he was working wasn’t sufficient to prevent a fall. He was in hospital for eight weeks because of the seriousness of his injuries.
The construction company and a sub-contractor were both fined after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Neil Jamieson said:
“Although Mr Brown has suffered very serious, life-changing injuries, we could easily be talking about a fatal incident.”
In a third incident, also involving a building firm, a worker fractured his leg in multiple places when a floor collapsed under the weight of concrete blocks, causing him to fall three metres to the ground.
He sustained serious breaks in the lower leg bones and needed a major operation and a skin graft. He still cannot walk properly and is unable to return to work. A colleague who was working at ground level came very close to being hit by the following blocks and was lucky to escape injury.
A HSE investigation found that the building company had allowed the load capacity of the floor to be exceeded by seven times.
It was fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £4,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations and a separate breach of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
“Both offences were caused because the (firm) instructed workers to undertake tasks that they knew to be unsafe, but were unwilling to halt the work,” commented HSE Inspector Keith Levart.
“In terms of the collapse, the firm cut corners by not carrying out the first floor work to the accepted standard and then allowed it to become grossly overloaded. As a result, a casual labourer has suffered an injury that may prevent him from returning to manual employment for a considerable time,” he added.
If you have suffered a fracture or any other type of injury at work, then our specialist personal injury lawyers based in Scotland can help: click here to make an online enquiry or call us on 0800 027 1480.