London mock-log cabin collapses, injures worker

A specialist company that makes props and backdrops for theatres and fashion shows in London has been fined after a staff member was injured.

The unnamed 35-year-old worker from Stoke Newington suffered leg fracture and a cracked skull when a section of a log cabin set toppled from a forklift truck and pinned him to the ground at the Souvenir Scenic Studios workshop in Southwark.

Westminster Magistrates' Court was told that the carpenter, who wishes to remain anonymous, was employed by the company for two years prior to the incident.

On the day of the accident, Souvenir Scenic Studios had made a fibreglass cladding for the outside of a mock-log cabin. The prop was set for use on the West End Adelphi theatre's production of The Bodyguard.

The largest section was the wheeled base, something that would allow stagehands to more easily move the object between scenes. 

This part of the structure needed to be secured onto a forklift before being loaded onto a lorry, but when one of the 300 kg sections was moved it fell over and landed on the worker. He eventually made a full recovery and has returned to work.

After being informed of the incident, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation and found there was a lack of planning for the lifting operation.

For its part in the accident, Souvenir Scenic Studios was fined £3,500 and told to pay £2,033 in costs after it admitted breaching the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the trial, HSE inspector John Crookes said: "Safety with forklift trucks is dependent on proper planning and the selection of the right lifting accessories. If the need arises to lift something excessively heavy or awkwardly shaped, firms must ensure their employees don’t go ahead until they have all the correct equipment they need to do it safely."

The HSE has made a point of attempting to improve the quality of planning in the construction industry recently, but apart from work at height, poorly considered operations remain one of the biggest killers in the sector.

Posted by Francesca Witney