A subsidiary of General Motors has been told to pay nearly £180,000 in fines and costs for safety failings after a crane operator suffered severe crush injuries in a lifting operation at the IBC Vehicles press shop in Luton.
The worker, who the Health and Safety Executive said does not wish to be named, suffered multiple injuries including fractures to the upper left arm, breastbone, right collarbone and ribs; as well as collapsed lungs.
The HSE prosecuted IBC Vehicles last month in relation to the incident which occurred at its Kimpton Road factory in July 2011.
Luton Crown Court heard the employee had lowered an eight-tonne die block – used to make van parts – into its storage position, and was unhooking it from the crane’s lifting chains when the 50-tonne crane started to move, dragging the block towards the worker and crushing him against another block behind him.
The crane operator was hospitalised for two weeks and has had numerous operations since, but has not been able to return to work.
HSE found a protective frame around the control levers of the crane designed to prevent inadvertent operation was missing. There were also serious shortcomings with the company’s maintenance of lifting equipment and management of lifting operations, including the provision of training and information for crane operators.
The court was told that a number of the ten cranes in the press shop at the factory had previously missed annual examinations by as much as 12 months, and that some failed to have identified maintenance issues acted upon.
In addition, the provision of training and information for employees was inadequate to ensure that lifting operations were carried out safely.
IBC Vehicles Ltd, of Kimpton Road, Luton, was fined a total of £155,000 and ordered to pay £22,795 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and two breaches of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.
In June 2014, almost three years after the incident, Vauxhall managing director Tim Tozer joined the board of IBC Vehicles, according to Companies House data.