Milton Keynes man breaks legs in industrial accident

A 41-year-old man from Milton Keynes that broke his legs in an industrial accident last year may now be able to claim compensation.

While it had previously been unclear if injuries sustained by Martyn Powell - a member of the cleaning team at Cemex UK Materials - had been caused by the failings of his employer, a trial at Aylesbury Crown Court has established that they were liable.

Mr Powell was cleaning an area around a metal skip track at an asphalt plant at a site belonging to the company when the incident took place.

Jurors at the court were told the track had been hoisted in the air by members of staff in order to allow the exposed area to be cleaned, but when the device used to lift the object jammed, Mr Powell attempted to free it using a manual ratchet to pull it down.

However, as he did this, the hook gave way and the 400 kg track fell to the ground, trapping and breaking both of his legs. The man was in hospital for a week and was unable to return to work for six months after the injury.

After being informed of the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation and found Cemex did not maintain the hoist effectively. 

Inspectors also concluded that a safe system of work had not been put in place by the Buckinghamshire-based firm.

For its part in Mr Powell's injuries, Cemex was fined £35,000 and told to pay £10,043 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Commenting after the trial, HSE inspector Karl Howes said: "Martyn Powell suffered painful fractures to both legs, but his injuries could easily have been more serious or even fatal.

"It is not enough to rely on reactive maintenance and only fix things when they go wrong; companies should be looking for signs of wear and tear before any deterioration leads to an incident and possible injury."

By Francesca Witney