Boss es­capes jail after girder fell crush­ing man’s arms and hand

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - News - BY LORNA HUGHES lorna.hughes@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @lor­na_hughes

THIS is the 10-tonne metal girder that crushed the arms of a worker at a Widnes de­mo­li­tion yard leav­ing him with ‘cat­a­strophic’ in­juries.

David Whit­field had his left arm am­pu­tated be­low the el­bow and also lost the fin­gers on his right hand after the hor­rific ac­ci­dent at S Evans And Sons De­mo­li­tion on Dit­ton Road.

The 63-year-old spent 2½ months in hos­pi­tal, after be­ing in­jured in Oc­to­ber, 2015, and will need care for the rest of his life.

The photo, taken by in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the Health And Safety Ex­ec­u­tive (HSE), show the metal gird­ers Mr Whit­field was help­ing his boss Sa­muel Evans to stack be­fore he was in­jured.

The heavy beams were be­ing sep­a­rated by wooden rail­way sleep­ers, in a process known as ‘skid­ding’.

When Mr Whit­field re­turned from lunch, he no­ticed one of the sleep­ers had been smashed, and Evans in­structed him to re­move it and re­place it with wooden blocks.

The blocks were smaller, which meant Mr Whit­field had to go un­der­neath the sus­pended girder in or­der to po­si­tion them prop­erly.

Liver­pool Crown Court heard he protested be­cause he felt the blocks were un­suit­able, but was told by Evans to con­tinue – and the girder then fell on him as Evans lifted it on one side.

Evans, 70, the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and founder of the firm, pleaded guilty to fail­ing to en­sure per­sons in his em­ploy­ment were not ex­posed to risks to their health and safety and us­ing an un­suit­able piece of equip­ment.

He was given a 10-month prison sen­tence, sus­pended for two years, and or­dered to com­plete 200 hours of un­paid work.

The com­pany was also pros­e­cuted and fined £150,000 after ad­mit­ting two charges of fail­ing to en­sure the health and safety and wel­fare of em­ploy­ees.

An­drew Long, de­fend­ing the com­pany, said the ac­ci­dent which cost Mr Whit­field his arm and fin­gers was a ‘bizarre aber­ra­tion’ and it pre­vi­ously had a ‘truly re­mark­able’ safety record.

Mal­colm Gal­loway, de­fend­ing Evans, said he was ‘dev­as­tated’ over the in­juries and had now stepped away from the day-to-day run­ning of the firm.

Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said Mr Whit­field had lost his in­de­pen­dence, was now self-con­scious about be­ing stared at, and his hopes of an ac­tive re­tire­ment had been dashed.

Speak­ing after the hear­ing, HSE in­spec­tor Ro­han Lye said: “If the com­pany and its di­rec­tor had taken ba­sic steps to de­cide how to do this rou­tine task, and what con­trol mea­sures to use, they could have pre­vented this dev­as­tat­ing in­ci­dent re­sult­ing in an em­ployee suf­fer­ing life-chang­ing in­juries.”

One of th­ese gird­ers fell on worker David Whit­field crush­ing his arms

Sa­muel Evans pic­tured leav­ing Liver­pool Crown Court

Above: an Al­lied 4500 Ro­ta­tor Shear in­cor­rectly used to drag metal gird­ers which fell onto the arms of worker David Whit­field

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