Employee in court after striking co-worker’s head with digger bucket

A construction site worker from Rushden has been prosecuted after he struck another worker on the head with the bucket on a digger.

The digger driver was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found he had been using a mobile phone while operating the excavator vehicle on a building site in Milton Keynes, and had not noticed his colleague.

Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard today (25 April) that the vehicle operator had been using the excavator at the Middleton site off Brickhill Street on 8 December 2012, working alongside a colleague who was driving the site dumper truck. The operation involved the driver excavating and dumping material into the truck for transport to another location at the site.

The court heard that the driver of the dumper truck, who does not wish to be named, had returned to the excavation site to await the next load of material.

The digger driver had been using his mobile phone and, not realising his colleague had returned, rotated the upper body of the excavator causing the metal bucket to strike the driver on the side of his head.

The worker sustained multiple fractures to his jaw as well as a punctured and collapsed lung. He was hospitalised for ten days and did not return to work until 14 months later, and will require further surgery on his jaw.

The driver of Rushden, Northants, was ordered to pay compensation of £2,500 to the injured worker, and costs of £1,554 after pleading guilty to a single breach the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Stephen Manley said:

“Construction site vehicles are extremely powerful and, if the operator becomes distracted, can be highly dangerous.

“Road users are rightly banned from using mobile phones when driving cars. It’s clearly important that those in control of machinery – weighing up to 40 tonnes in some cases – need to be equally attentive and concentrate solely on the job at hand.

“This incident could easily have been avoided if the operator had followed site rules and not become complacent about his responsibilities when operating his vehicle.”

For information about construction site safety contact Ashes Associates