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Worker lost leg after wind farm safety failings

December 31 2013

A 20-year-old ground worker had to have his leg amputated after it was crushed following safety failings at a wind farm he was working on.

Gregor Steele, from Perthshire, suffered severe injuries when his left leg was crushed between a tractor pulling a heavy water bowser and the bucket of a loading shovel during the construction of Griffin Wind Farm in Perth and Kinross.

Mr Steele, who had been employed by Gallagher Groundworks since leaving school, was airlifted to hospital where he underwent a nine-hour operation in an attempt to save his leg.

Despite a second operation, this proved unsuccessful and his leg was amputated above the knee.

An investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) led to a prosecution of Gallagher Groundworks at Perth Sheriff Court.

The court was told that between 13 August and 3 September 2010 the company failed to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for the work being carried out and failed to ensure that the machinery being used was appropriate for the work, was properly maintained and that safety equipment was fully operative.

Gallagher Groundworks of The Yard, Commissioner Street, Crieff, was fined £32,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Mr Steele was unable to work for two years. He has since been fitted with a prosthetic limb and has returned to work for Gallaghers using an automatic tractor.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Kerry Elliot, said: “This was an entirely avoidable incident and the failures by Gallagher Groundworks led directly to this life-changing injury sustained by a young man, aged just 20 at the time of the incident.

“The equipment was not suitable in combination for the work it was being put to and furthermore was poorly maintained with the parking lock actually being disabled rather than repaired.

“Mr Steele has finally been able to return to work but he will endure the after effects of this incident for the rest of his life.”

If you have been injured at work, call PM Law Solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444.