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Machine manual 'not read' inquest told
None of the employees of a construction company had read a manual describing how to safely operate a machine that killed a 23-year-old workman on a Bradford building site, an inquest heard yesterday.
Steven Allen, from Highfield Road, Keighley, received fatal head injuries when he became trapped by a Probst scissor-grab machine in March 2007, while working on a new waste recycling plant in Midland Road, Bradford.
Mr Allen had started work for JN Bentley as a 16-year-old apprentice. The company’s quality environment safety co-ordinator at the time of the incident, Richard Risdon, gave evidence to deputy assistant coroner Paul Marks on the second day of the inquest.
Under cross-examination Mr Risdon said that he and other JN Bentley employees had not read a manual dictating how the machine should be used safely, despite the document stating that it was imperative anyone operating the instrument should see it.
At the time of Steven’s death, the scissor-grab machine had been used to lift bags of concrete on top of a wooden pallet, but the apparatus’s instruction manual had strictly prohibited its use for anything other than concrete blocks.
Failing to adhere to these prohibitions could result in serious injury or death, it said.
But Mr Risdon said he thought that the machine had been suitable to perform the lifting exercise.
Mick Antoniw, representing Steven’s mother Judith, asked him: “How do you know the vehicle was fit to do the job if you or any of your workmen had not seen the manual?”
Mr Risdon said: “The machine had been used before.”
Mr Antoniw added: “You are not a small company, it would have been very easy to download the manual from the internet and read it.”
It was also revealed that no member of staff had received specific training in relation to using the machine and no one had been specifically appointed to perform the role of slinger and banksman, used as “a second pair of eyes” when directing the movement of the apparatus.
Mr Antoniw asked Mr Risdon: “The training of the workmen was inadequate, wasn’t it?”
Mr Risdon replied: “We could have done more.”
It was also revealed by Health and Safety Executive inspector Catherine Rimmer that a certificate demonstrating the competence of the lift operator, David Akrigg, was two years out of date.
The inquest continues.