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17th September 2020

Banksman Suffers Head Crush Injuries In Accident Involving Excavator

Wire fence around a construction site with a digger in the background

Garden Discount Centre Limited (GDC) of St. Olaves, Great Yarmouth, have been fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,745 following a serious accident involving one of their employees and an excavator.


The incident occurred during contracting works being conducted at a school in Cromer, Norfolk.

Jeremy Buck was acting as banksman, watching to ensure that the excavator in question did not strike a fence when pushing soil.

Mr. Buck had turned away from the approaching excavator when his head became trapped between the bucket and a gate post adjacent to the fence.

He suffered multiple fractures to the side of his face as a result of the incident.

Failings in the Safety Management System

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident, concluding that GDC had failed to assess the risks of the task and implement appropriate safety measures.

They also discovered that no specific banking or machinery operational training had been provided to employees, including the injured party and the excavator driver.

There was no evidence of communication of safe working practices for operations of, or near to, moving plant and equipment.

Guilty Plea

GDC pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 in failing to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

Speaking after the hearing a HSE Inspector stated ‘This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply assessing the risks of the task at hand, implementing suitable safety measures and issuing relevant safety instructions to employees.’

‘Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.’

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The competent person role does not have to be fulfilled internally within every company. You can, therefore, outsource the appointment to a contractor or consultancy with the necessary qualifications and experience.

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