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Water company fined for Lowestoft accident

PUBLISHED: 08:00 27 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 06 July 2010

Hayley Mace

A water company has been ordered to pay more than £34,000 in fines and costs after an employee at a treatment plant near Lowestoft was crushed against a construction vehicle.

A water company has been ordered to pay more than £34,000 in fines and costs after an employee at a treatment plant near Lowestoft was crushed against a construction vehicle.

Robert Ayers, 38, was crushed between the cab and loading bucket of his skid steer loader while he was working at the treatment works in Lound, just north of Lowestoft, on March 12, 2008.

Lowestoft Magistrates' Court heard on Thursday that Mr Ayers got out of the vehicle with the engine running and, as he was getting back into the driver's cab, he slipped and pressed the control to raise the bucket.

He was then trapped between the cab and the bucket, suffering crush injuries and permanent scarring. He spent three days in intensive care.

Northumbrian Water, which owns and operates Essex and Suffolk Water, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) spokesman said there was supposed to be a device to stop the bucket being raised unless there was someone in the driving seat of the vehicle, but this was found to be faulty. Mr Ayers had also not been adequately trained in the use of the loader.

Northumbrian Water was fined £17,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £17,045.

No one at Northumbrian Water was available to comment yesterday.

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