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£400k fine after worker trapped by hydraulic ram

11 October 2022

A MANUFACTURER of articulated vehicle trailers has been fined £400,000 after a worker became trapped under a hydraulic ram.

The man, who was working at Fruehauf Ltd, in Houghton Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire, which is now in administration, suffered a fractured back in the incident on 14 January 2020.

The man was undertaking work to strengthen the chassis of a vehicle, which involved removing and refitting the hydraulic ram which would lift the trailer of the vehicle.

The ram had been returned to the vehicle and was poorly supported with pieces of steel and wood, and clamped underneath using G-clamps in an attempt to stop it from tipping forwards. The ram fell forwards trapping the man underneath.

He is now unable to work in the heavy fabrication industry due to the life-changing nature of his injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the risk assessment undertaken for the work was not detailed and did not identify specific risks relating to the task and the control measures required to reduce those risks. Incorrect equipment was used and a safe system of work was not created and, instead, a poor working method was only agreed between those doing the work.

Fruehauf Limited which is now registered to an address on Town Quay, Southamption, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay HSE costs of £3472.40 at a hearing on August 3 2022.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Stacey Gamwell said: “Those in control of work have a responsibility to assess risks, devise safe methods of working and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers in the safe system of working.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life changing injuries sustained by the employee could have been prevented.”