Leeds worker’s legs crushed by 22 tonne digger

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A construction worker had his legs broken when a 22-tonne digger reversed over him, a court heard.

Malcolm Littledyke, 58, suffered severe injuries after the excavator backed into him as he erected boundary fencing on a building site in Bedford Garth, Tinshill.

Both his employer, Jack Lunn (Construction) Ltd, of Pudsey, and Hunslet building contractor Fastsource Ltd were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as a result, and sentenced at Leeds Magistrates Court yesterday.

Prosecuting, Michael Elliker, said that on June 30, 2008, Mr Littledyke was crushed by the digger, operated by a Fastsource worker.

The driver was aware workers were on site and a Fastsource colleague was told to act as banksman to direct him and nearby workers.

As Mr Littledyke was fixing fencing, the digger drove past before reversing. Neither the site manager or banksman could see him when he was crushed below the knee.

Mitigating on behalf of Jack Lunn (Construction), David Walton, said: “It is accepted there wasn’t adequate supervision on the day by virtue that there was an accident.”

Mr Walton said Fastsource’s risk assessment wasn’t adequate and the traffic management plan should have been updated.

He said: “It was caused by the failings of very well trained and very experienced individuals.”

Mr Littledyke, from Barnsley, had two operations to set broken bones and skin and muscle grafts.

Gary Hodgson, mitigating on behalf of Fastsource, said the firm should have provided a digger that turned around without needing to reverse but it was provided thinking that nobody was on site.

He said a report by a HSE expert stated Jack Lunn (Construction) primarily caused the incident due to not sorting access roads during excavation. Both firms pleaded guilty to breaching sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act and were fined £8,000 each, with both paying £6,338.50 in costs.

District judge Christopher Darnton said: “I have no doubt that this unfortunate incident was very much a wake-up call to them.”

HSE inspector Sarah Lee said: “Companies must ensure that vehicles and pedestrians are safeguarded at all times on construction sites, this accident could have been a fatality.”