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Bradford Council has been prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) after a worker was injured in a fall accident while pruning a tree as part of his work.
Magistrates at a court in the northern city heard a 23-year-old arboricultural specialist from Bingley was conducting his normal duties and was removing dead branches from a forest at Bierley Hall Woods when the accident happened.
As the worker was lifted in a cherry picker to reach higher up into the tree-tops and prune less accessible parts of the foliage the vehicle suddenly overturned and sent him crashing 35 feet to the ground.
The man suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to his spine, collar bone, pelvis and right leg. This was in addition to other internal injuries that made the council staff member absent for five months.
However, he has since recovered and is now working at full capacity, although he is no longer able to carry out jobs that require heightened elevation.
The incident was investigated by the HSE and inspectors found there were a series of failures that meant Bradford Council was at fault for the anonymous man's injuries.
One of the primary problems discovered was that when weight was shifted on the cherry picker, one of the vehicle's stabiliser feet slid off a ground mat and then sunk into the soft grass to the side of the road.
It was found the lifter was stabilised on an old surface that was later deemed to be inadequate for the task at hand.
Bradford Council was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £9,623 in costs after admitting it breached Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE Inspector David Welsh said: "A young man has suffered life-changing injuries as a result of a number of failures ... but we could easily have been dealing with a fatal injury.
"The use of a vehicle-mounted cherry picker for work at height needs to be properly planned. The Council failed to assess the risks of the tree pruning work ... which led to an unsafe system of work being in operation."
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