A Manchester firm has been ordered to pay nearly Â£90,000 in fines and costs after an employee was crushed by a huge fish tank, resulting in the amputation of part of his leg.
The 2m-wide tank weighing 200 kg had been specially made by the bespoke services department of Alloy Bodies Ltd — a firm which normally manufactures lorry trailers — for one of its directors.
During a six-day trial, Manchester Crown Court heard how the tank was being loaded into the back of a van in June 2010, when it toppled off a forklift truck, hitting one of the workers and breaking both of his legs. Doctors later had to amputate the man's right leg from the knee down and a pin had to be fitted in his left leg. The 59-year-old employee, who asked not to be named, now has a prosthetic limb and is still unable to return to work, more than three years on from the incident.
The court heard that the fish tank hadn't been secured to a pallet before being lifted and due to its sheer size, workers had struggled to load it onto the van.
The firm was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the work had not been planned, supervised or carried out safely.
On December 9, 2013, Alloy Bodies Ltd., of Clifton Street, Miles Platting, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £56,621 in costs after being found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Alex Farnhill said: "This was an entirely preventable incident which resulted in an employee having to have part of his leg amputated. His whole life has been affected by the shortcomings of this company.
"No effort was made to plan the work in advance, despite it being a highly unusual activity for employees at the factory. The firm should have considered the risks and found a safe way of moving the fish tank.
"If it had been secured to a pallet and loaded onto a larger vehicle, rather than a van, than the terrible injuries the worker suffered could have been avoided."
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