Worker prosecuted after striking colleague with digger

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GUILTY: Gary Draper was ‘complacent’

A construction site worker has been prosecuted after he struck a colleague on the head with a digger bucket, causing multiple jaw fractures and a collapsed lung.

Gary Draper, from Rushden, was prosecuted after Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators found he had been using a mobile phone while operating the excavator vehicle.

The incident, which occurred on a building site in Milton Keynes in December 2012, was caused after the distracted Mr Draper failed to notice his colleague.

Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard Mr Draper had been operating the excavator, working alongside a colleague who was driving the site dumper truck.

The operation involved Mr Draper excavating and dumping material into the truck for transport to another location at the site.

“This incident could easily have been avoided if the operator had followed site rules and not become complacent about his responsibilities when operating his vehicle.”

Stephen Manley, HSE

Magistrates heard that the driver of the dumper truck, who does not wish to be named, had returned to the excavation site to await the next load of material.

Mr Draper had been using his mobile phone and, not realising his colleague had returned, rotated the upper body of the excavator causing the metal bucket to strike the driver on the side of his head.

The victim was hospitalised for ten days and did not return to work until 14months later, and will require further surgery on his jaw.

Gary Draper, of Oakpits Way, Rushden, was ordered to pay compensation of £2,500 to the injured worker, and costs of £1,554.

He pleaded guilty to a single breach the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Stephen Manley, Inspector at the HSE, said: “Construction site vehicles are extremely powerful and, if the operator becomes distracted, can be highly dangerous.

“Road users are rightly banned from using mobile phones when driving cars.

“It’s clearly important that those in control of machinery – weighing up to 40tonnes in some cases – need to be equally attentive and concentrate solely on the job at hand.

“This incident could easily have been avoided if the operator had followed site rules and not become complacent about his responsibilities when operating his vehicle.”

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