Employee prosecuted after striking co-worker with digger bucket

The Health and Safety Executive has prosecuted a construction site worker from Rushden after he struck a co-worker on the head with a digger bucket.

Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard how Gary Draper had been using a mobile phone when operating an excavator vehicle on a building site in Milton Keynes on 8th December 2012.

A subsequent HSE investigation found that Mr Draper’s colleague, who does not wish to be named, was driving the site dumper truck.

Mr Draper had been excavating and then dumping material into his colleague’s truck ready for transportation to another location on the site. His co-worker, who had returned from a run, was awaiting the next load of material.

Unaware his colleague had returned, Mr Draper rotated the upper body of the excavator causing the metal bucket to strike the driver on the side of his head.

“Construction site vehicles are extremely powerful and, if the operator becomes distracted, can be highly dangerous,” HSE Inspector Stephen Manley said after the hearing.

Mr Manley added: “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.”

Mr Draper’s colleague was hospitalised for 10 days with multiple fractures to his jaw as well as a punctured and collapsed lung. He was unable to return to work until 14 months later and is awaiting further surgery on his jaw.

Gary Draper, of Oakpits Way, Rushden, Northants, pleaded guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was ordered to pay compensation of £2,500 to the injured worker and costs of £1,554.

Mr Manley said the incident could have been “easily” avoided had Mr Draper “followed site rules and not become complacent about his responsibilities when operating his vehicle.”

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