£30k fine for firm after safety breach

Scene of the accident at Rother Valley Country Park.
Scene of the accident at Rother Valley Country Park.
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A firm has been fined £30,000 and told to pay £6,500 in costs after a worker broke more than 13 bones in a horror incident branded ‘an accident waiting to happen’ by a judge.

Donald Offord was working for Coopers Civil Engineering at Rother Valley Country Park, near Swallownest, when he was struck by a metal sheet being lifted by a faulty excavator, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

He suffered a fractured skull, cheekbone, jaw, nose, thighs, pelvis and seven ribs, and his right lung was punctured. He broke several bones in his left foot and had to have stitches in both eyes.

John Harrison, prosecuting, said Coopers was subcontracted by Rotherham Council to backfill a culvert and install a new manhole.

He said a safety catch on the excavator hook had broken off but was not reported, there was no exclusion zone in place, the site was undermanned, the health and safety policy wasn’t followed, the man who was meant to be the lookout was operating the excavator, and Mr Offord wasn’t properly trained.

Coopers, of York, admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Judge Robert Moore said: “This is a serious breach.”