£10,000 fine for injury to firm’s worker

A FIFE engineering company has been fined £10,000 after a lathe weighing more than a tonne toppled onto a man’s leg.

The sheriff sentencing the firm said the exercise was “doomed to fail” and described it as “Heath Robinson.” Craig Stewart (22), worked for AG Brown Ltd, a metal fabrication company with a previously unblemished safety record, which specialises in making metal products for the oil and gas and construction industries.

At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court last Thursday AG Brown Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure Mr Stewart’s safety, failing to make suitable risk assessments, and failing to provide a safe system of working.

The court heard that on May 26 2010, Mr Stewart was working with a colleague to move a 1.2 tonne lathe from a workshop on Cavendish Way, Glenrothes, to one of the company’s other workshops on Rutherford Road, Glenrothes. Depute fiscal Anthony Bonnar explained that Mr Stewart and his colleague decided to lift the lathe using a lifting eye and fabric sling hooked over a forklift truck. However, the doorway of the workshop was not high enough to move the forklift through it with the forks raised, so Mr Stewart and his colleague decided to put the lathe onto three skates to move it outside the door, before re-attaching it to the forklift truck to be moved to another workshop.

Mr Bonnar said: “Mr Stewart noticed one of the skates was squint and was squatting and attempting to straighten it when the lathe toppled towards him, trapping his leg beneath a back panel.”

Representing AG Brown, solicitor Lynn Macfarlane said: “The company wishes to express its deep regret at the injury received by Mr Stewart.”

Sheriff James Williamson conceded that AG Brown had “a very good safety record. It is regrettable that this rigorous health and safety attitude was not applied in this instance.”

After sentencing, HSE inspector Jane Scott said: “It was entirely foreseeable the lathe could topple.”