Council fined over cherry picker accident

East Riding Council is facing a bill of more than £10,000 after pleading guilty to failing to ensure the safety of an employee at work.

A cherry picker fell on a council worker, 51 year old Elena Tradewell, with the force of a 28-stone hammer because of serious errors in the council's health and safety procedure. The machine was being used by two untrained workers in Princess Mary Promenade on the South Foreshore on September 19, 2005.

The foreshore workers, who were not employed for maintenance work, had borrowed the lift from workers at the Spa, who were similarly underqualified, to help them take down banners. They could have been trained to use the machinery at a cost of £100 each.

The cherry picker glanced off Mrs Tradewell's head, shoulder and back before collapsing on her foot, smashing two metatarsal bones.

The engineer's report into the accident noted four factors which contributed to the lift falling - a light wind, a slight slope on the ground, a missing outrigger leg and, most importantly, its operator turned a screw to level the machine in the wrong direction.

Mr and Mrs Tradewell are continuing to seek compensation from the council.

Speaking in court on the behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, prosecutor Christopher Chambers said that although the injuries had been serious the consequences might have been much worse, with a risk of fatal injury. There had been a number of systemic errors by the Council.

Tom Spencer, mitigating for the council, said: "This council has been at the forefront of bringing workplace accidents down and that reputation has been badly damaged by what happened two years ago.

"The internal investigation was made very rapidly. Conclusions were drawn, lessons were learned and the systems changed very, very quickly. There was a great deal of anguish among very senior officers in the council"