Using tools and equipment for purposes other than what they are designed for can not only result in the job being done incorrectly or taking longer than necessary, but it can prove dangerous as a case in The UK recently proved. Using the incorrect tools and equipment for a job can result in injury, damage to property and delays in projects.
An accident that took place on a work site in London, in which a beam fell from a sling and crashed on a workman steadying the suspended load, is proof of the dangers of using the wrong equipment.
The company responsible, M&J Ballantyne Ltd were fined after a worker suffered serious injuries after being struck by a concrete beam which fell from a telehandler on a home construction project in March 2014.
According to reports concrete beams for the ground floor had been stacked around the site and moved to the installation locations on the telehandler forks or suspended by slings from the forks. The report said a 4.75 metre beam which weighed approximately 300kg was placed into slings on a single fork and lifted off the ground. It was then rotated 90 degrees when a worker, Derek Graham, aged 51, held one end of the beam to control any “swinging” motion. In the mean-time a colleague raised the telehandler forks and lifted the beam to shoulder height.
The vehicle then reversed and a sling slipped from the fork. This resulted in the beam crashing down and into Mr Graham.
The man had to be airlifted to hospital and suffered severe pelvic injuries. Graham spent six weeks in hospital and had to undergo a number of operations. He is still currently off work and undergoing physiotherapy.
Reports say the man may not be able to return to the same type of work, which he has been doing for the past 22 years.
The court heard that a method statement for work on the site required a sling lifting eye however this requirement had not been met by the contractor. The following excerpt from a post on PPConstructionSafety.com explains:
Leicester Magistrates heard that HSE investigators found that a method statement prepared for the lifting of the beams stated that slings should be “securely choked around the beam” and lifted by telehandler using a sling-lifting eye.
Mr Graham had not seen this document andhis colleague operating the telehandler had not received any formal training. A risk assessment had been carried out which failed identify the need for a specific lifting plan or technical information on the loads to be lifted.
Perhaps the most concerning part about this incident and ones of this nature is the fact that they are completely preventable. Had the company taken the necessary precautions, the worker could have avoided painful injury.
After the hearing Tony Mitchell on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive spoke about the circumstances surrounding the case and why the employer had been found to be negligent. He explained:
“The lifting of heavy loads where workers are under or in the near vicinity of the suspended load is a high risk activity that can result in serious or even fatal injury. The dangers of lifting operations such as this are well-known and understood in the construction industry.
There is ample free guidance available on how to comply with the law and carry out the work safely.
After the incident, an Improvement Notice was served on the company after it failed to assess the risks and take appropriate action to control and manage them, and prepare a lifting plan. The company complied with this notice and also purchased a suitable lifting attachment to be fitted over the forks which would provide a single lifting point.