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Council fined £12,000 after worker thrown from overturned mower

August 13 2014

A council has been fined £12,000 after a worker was thrown from an overturned mower while cutting grass in Gloucestershire.

The groundsman, who has asked not to be named, suffered four fractured ribs and bruising in the incident at Cirencester Amphitheatre on 4th September 2012.

He was working for Cirencester Town Council, which was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation identified safety failings.

Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court was told the groundsman was carrying out routine cutting on the outside slope of the amphitheatre using a ride-on mower.

The grass was around two feet high making it difficult to see the ground conditions, which were uneven with potholes.

After the mower was tipped over, the man landed on the grass and he was then hit by the machine.

His injuries caused him to be off work for two months and he was only able to work on light duties for a further month on his return.

HSE’s investigation found that the slope being mown was 64 degrees, and that the mower in operation was not suitable for slopes in excess of 25 degrees.

However, the worker had no means of judging the severity of the slope because it did not have an inclinometer.

The court was told that the worker had not received proper training, information or instructions on how to carry out the work with the mower.

Cirencester Town Council admitted to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was also ordered to pay costs of £17,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Alison Fry said the worker could have easily been killed, having been put at unnecessary risk.

“It was an entirely avoidable incident, and I hope it serves to remind employers to take all site conditions into account, including slopes, before choosing equipment to cut grass,” she said.

“Employers need to carry out risk assessments to decide how to carry out a job safely. They then need to provide adequate training, information and instructions.”

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