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