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A building company has been fined after one of its employees suffered a broken back when he was hit by the bucket of a digger.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted RMC Building and Civil Engineering Ltd after investigating the incident at Warminster’s Longleat Estate.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court heard how, in January 2014 the company had been commissioned to install fencing around the estate. 48-year-old Peter McGrellis, who at the time was living in Westbury, was carrying out the work along with two colleagues and they were using a digger to push the wooden fence posts into the ground.

The workers were holding the posts by hand whilst the digger’s operator rested the bucket on the post, applying downward pressure to it.

Mr McGrellis was stood holding one of the posts on 16th January when the incident occurred, waiting for the digger to push down on it. However, the top of the post then split, which caused the bucket to slip. It hit Mr McGrellis on the shoulder and knocked him to the ground.

Mr McGrellis suffered a broken vertebra along with other substantial injuries and was admitted to hospital for over a week. Even now he still suffers with pain. An investigation by the HSE found that the company failed to adequately plan, manage and monitor the work being carried out. Although a risk assessment had been carried out, it made no reference to the risk involved in working in such proximity to the digger.

RMC Building & Civil Engineering Ltd, of Greenford, London, has been fined £1,500 along with costs of £1,117 after it pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, Ian Whittles, HSE Inspector said: “The use of excavator vehicles in such a manner is dangerous and is known to cause injury. The serious failure of RMC Building & Civil Engineering in not managing this job properly led to this avoidable incident and unfortunately Mr McGrellis suffered as a result.

“Workers have a right to expect that the equipment they use is appropriate for the task – on this occasion the equipment used was clearly not suitable for the job.
“Anyone in control of construction projects must ensure the work is properly planned and thoroughly risk-assessed to avoid such incidents.”