The HSE has prosecuted Bristol City Council for health and safety violations that led to an accident in which a park employee broke her hip and sustained damage to her Achilles tendon when a tractor overturned.
In May 2012, an unnamed woman was employed as a park keeper in the Netham Park in Bristol when she was carrying out maintenance work. She was working on a tractor with a trailer attached, and applied the brake as the tractor started to descend a slope. As she braked, the tractor skidded and the park keeper swerved to avoid hitting a fence. As she did so, the tractor flipped over-throwing her from her seat.
The employee was transported to hospital to receive medical attention. It was revealed that as a result of the fall, the woman broke her pelvis and sustained a serious injury to her Achilles tendon. Due to the extent of her injuries, she was unable to return from work for a year, and was forced to take an office job on her return to work. Further surgery is required to repair the damage done to her Achilles tendon.
The HSE launched an investigation into the accident, and it was revealed that the tractor had been acquired just prior to the accident and had not yet been fitted with a seat belt. The Bristol City Council had failed to provide adequate instruction to the park keeper on how to use the machinery in a safe manner.
The HSE prosecuted the council with two beaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The defendants admitted guilt, and accepted the fine of £20,000 and costs of £4,700.
The HSE inspector involved with the case-Kate Leftly-stated that the distress and pain that the employee had endured as a result of the overturning tractor accident had been preventable. She added that the employee had trained for three years to become a park keeper, but had to give up that job in spite of her training due to the injuries that she received.
The inspector also stated that the Bristol City Council’s systems for ensuring employee safety were inadequate, and that they should have ensured that the employee was properly trained to drive the tractor and they failed to identify the need for a suitable restraint.