A worker at a steel works suffered serious head injuries after being hit in the face with a scaffold pole, causing him to fall backwards. As a result, he sustained permanent brain damage.
An investigation established that he had been preparing to start a paddle mixer to mix refractory materials. The paddle mixer door would not open as hard concrete had built around it. Using a scaffold pole, one of the worker’s colleagues managed to open the door. This caused the pole to spin which then hit the worker in the face with such force that he was thrown backwards, hitting his head and losing consciousness. As a result, he broke his jaw and suffered permanent brain damage.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the company had provided an unguarded mixer for their contractor’s employees to use and that the mixer’s door regularly jammed. The company also failed to ensure that there was a safe system of work in place to release the mixer’s door.
The investigation also found that as the mixer was unguarded, workers were able to develop and adopt an unsafe system of work to release the door, which ultimately resulted in the worker’s injuries. The company also failed to supervise workers that were using the mixer at its site.
The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £14,000.
HSE inspector said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by implementing suitable control measures and safe working practices.