Aug 13, 2023

Council fined £90k after horror accident that saw road worker's arm trapped and later amputated

The man was airlifted to hospital after his limb got stuck as he tried to remove debris from a machine.

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South Lanarkshire Council has been fined £90,000 after a road worker had his arm amputated following a horrific accident.

The male victim's limb became trapped as he tried to remove debris from a machine, Hamilton Sheriff Court heard on Friday.

The 38-year-old was airlifted to hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery.

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The council admitted a breach of the Health and Safety Act.

The accident happened in a layby near Happendon junction of the M74 in on February 22, 2019.

The victim was a member of a road surface repair team.

At the time he'd worked with the council for nearly 10 years, but he'd missed formal training when the tarmac-laying machine was purchased and had to rely on on-the-job training.

There was no bolt to keep the machine's guard in place. When the man moved the guard and put his gloved hand inside to remove debris that should have been cleared the previous day, he was caught by a rotating screw.

Firefighters had to dismantle the machine before he could be freed.

The court heard that the man's arm was amputated at the elbow.

Although he continues to work for the council, he can no longer go to the gym or play badminton with his son.

Defence advocate Barry Smith said the design of the machine was such that even had a bolt been in place the guard could have been removed by a worker.

Mr Smith told the court: "Anecdotal evidence is that this type of machine is still being offered for sale in the UK.

“The victim missed the formal familiarisation training but clearly knew how to use the machine. It had been used without incident since 2013.

“The council has since gone over and beyond that which is strictly necessary to remove any risk.”

Mr Smith said the council wished to express its "sincere regret" for what happened and told the court the man "was and remains a valued employee".

He added: "Given the nature and scale of its operations, the court could consider that the council has a largely unblemished safety record."

Passing sentence, Sheriff John Hamilton said the safety breach had “particularly serious consequences” for the victim.

The penalty would have been significantly higher but for the council’s “limited financial circumstances”.

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