Magistrates have fined a town council for safety failings after a groundsman came off and was hit by a ride-on mower when it tipped over.
Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday that the Cirencester Town Council employee, who wishes to remain anonymous, was cutting grass at the town’s amphitheatre on September 4, 2012 when the work accident occurred.
High grass hid potholes
He was cutting the outside slope of the earthwork and the grass was two feet high so it was difficult to see potholes. When the mower overturned he was thrown from it and then struck by the machine, the court was told.
The worker sustained four fractured ribs and bruising, was unable to work for two months and could only carry out light duties for another month when he returned to work at the council, magistrates heard.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the council after an investigation found it had breached safety laws.
Mower unsuitable for steep slope
The HSE told the court the ride-on mower being used was not suitable for slopes of 25 degrees or more.
The part of the amphitheatre he was mowing had a 64-degree incline and the mower was not fitted with an inclinometer to inform him of how severe the slope was.
Magistrates heard the mower was not the right equipment to carry out the task of cutting the grass of the amphitheatre; the employee was not sufficiently trained or instructed on how to use the mower and the council had failed to properly risk assess the work.
After admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Cirencester Town Council was ordered to pay a £12,000 fine and costs amounting to £17,000.
Work accident ‘avoidable’
Once the case had concluded, HSE inspector Alison Fry said the incident was totally avoidable and the council had put the groundsman at risk of death or serious injury unnecessarily, as there were several other safe methods of carrying out the task.
If you have suffered an injury in an accident at work call Accident Advice Helpline to see if you are entitled to make a compensation claim on their freephone helpline – 0800 689 0500.
Source: BBC News