23.12.2008

Lift operator fined £6,000

The operator of a truck mounted lift has been fined £6,000 following an accident in which he and another man were seriously injured. Click here to see earlier reports on this accident

The operator of a truck mounted lift, Karl Thackrah, 38, has been fined £2,500 plus £3,500 costs, following an accident in which he and another man, Christopher Cook, 44, were thrown out of the platform when it was hit by a passing van.

Thackrah admitted that his failings led to himself and Cook suffering horrific injuries after they were catapulted from the lifts platform.

In spite of being fully qualified (PAL card?) in the safe operation of the lift, Thackrah had not set the machine up properly and left the lower boom of the articulated lift projecting into the road and had placed no cones or barriers around the vehicle to warn passing motorists.

An off-duty police officer was apparently making his way to the lift to express his concerns and was nearly hit by the two men who fell around six metres, landing either side of him.

The Recorder at York Crown Court said that Thackrah’s actions had fallen “far below his duty. He positioned the equipment in such a way that there was a risk of it being hit by traffic. The arm should not have been overhanging the highway.”

“Mr Thackrah you had a responsibility to ensure the safety of yourself and Mr Cook and any passers-by. What happened was tragic in this case and the consequences were catastrophic for Mr Cook.”


In mitigation, the Recorder told Thackrah, a father-of-three: “You pleaded guilty at almost the first opportunity. You are obviously a family man who has worked hard in the past. However, the sentence must reflect the enormity of Mr Cook’s injuries”.

Cook had rented the lift, complete with operator, from William Birch & Sons, of Osbaldwick, to carry out painting work on his home. Thackrah, worked for the company as an operator.

The company was fined £12,500 plus £2,500 prosecution costs earlier this year after admitting to not ensuring Cook’s safety.


The case against Thackrah was brought by the Health and Safety Executive.

Vertikal Comment

This prosecution will hopefully send a strong message to careless operators stressing as it does the importance of taking their training and safety seriously. All too often the HSE pursue the employer even if they have done everything they should and could have, while ignoring the employee who may well have been fully responsible for the problem.

Their response to this is usually that he was not supervised.

It is a sad state of affairs when all employees need to be supervised like schoolchildren and surely the notion of having a ‘charge hand’ watching over them is ridiculous.

The fact is that if a company has provided all the equipment and the training and made it clear what it expects, then the responsibility of an accident like this must rest solely with the operator.

In this case the company was fined on the basis that it had not provided a check list for Thackrah to use in order to do a risk assessment… although it had properly trained him and provided all of the safety equipment.

Perhaps if we see more such cases against sloppy operators and tradesmen we might see a safer workplace, with more of them taking their responsibilities seriously.


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