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Businessman's safety failures led to worker's injury

28-03-2013

The shattered stone slabs after the incident

A South London businessman and his company have been prosecuted for safety breaches after a worker narrowly escaped being crushed by a collapsing load of stone slabs.

The two-tonne set of ten slabs fell from the side of a lorry as workmen were trying to unload them at a workshop owned by Granite Express Ltd. in Beddington Lane, Croydon, on 16 February 2012.

Employee Radoslaw Samson, 24, was on the trailer with a colleague having removed the packaging supporting the slabs so each could be removed individually by a forklift truck. As he altered a clamp at the end of a lifting arm attached to the forklift while standing in front of the slabs, they began to topple. Both men leapt from the side of the trailer but the falling slabs hit Mr Samson.

He suffered a broken leg and severe bruising to his right side. Mr Samson was on crutches for six months and remained out of work for ten months. He did not return to work at Granite Express.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and prosecuted Granite Express Ltd., which went into liquidation in November 2012, and former director Przemyslaw Zalecki, 37, of Graham Road, Mitcham, for joint safety failings.

On 27 March, Westminster magistrates were told that HSE had served a prohibition notice in June 2010 during a routine inspection at Granite Express halting further use of the lifting arm as it was not fit for purpose. Mr Zalecki, then director of the company, was given specific advice to carry out proper risk assessments and devise a safe system of work for unloading stone slabs from vehicles.

Although the firm complied with the prohibition notice, HSE found after Mr Samson's injury that the same lifting arm was back in use. The investigation also identified that the forklift had not been serviced or maintained, and there had been no operator training. In addition, the company and Mr Zalecki had failed to implement a safe method of work and to provide employees with instruction or supervision on the day.

Granite Express Ltd., c/o the liquidator address in Brighton Road, Croydon, was fined a total of £2,000 with £5,000 in costs after admitting two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Przemyslaw Zalecki was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two similar breaches of the Act.

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