Today, 10th August 2023 there was an unfortunate incident at the Tufa Field.
While unloading temporary trackway at the entrance to the lane, the telehoist lifting trackway sections overturned with the driver inside.
The 30 year old driver from Davis Trackhire sustained injuries requiring the attendance of paramedics. His injuries are not thought to be serious, but he was taken to hospital for further assessment.
The trackway is being installed as a temporary measure to allow heavy drilling machinery to be used during the hydrogeological assessment.
However, as frequently reported, the entrance to the field is narrow, along an unmade sloping track making vehicle access difficult.
Investigations should consider whether sufficient safety measures were in place, and the suitability of the methods used.
The hoist vehicle suffered damage during the incident and is being removed by specialist recovery equipment.
We wish the driver well, and a speedy recovery but we will not name him here.
We understand the driver suffered a sprained ankle and was discharged from hospital the same evening.
Update: After a day’s work on 17th August 2023, the truck has been retrieved and removed from site. Somewhat belatedly, site security notices and fences are in place to prevent access.
It is worth recording the sequence of events that led to this near-disaster.
Following the 3 days of ground clearing on the 10th August, a delivery lorry from Davis Trackway brought 20 or so sections of metal trackway to site, for the purpose of allowing heavy machinery to traverse the wet parts of the field.
The plan was to have the delivery lorry reverse into the lane and then unload the trackway sections. It was immediately clear that the entrance was far too narrow for the lorry and the driver refused to attempt it. It transpired that somewhere measurements had been incorrectly made, or not transmitted properly. Clearly this plan, with its associated Risk Assessment was no longer valid.
The decision was taken to unload the trackway sections at the lane entrance directly with a forklift truck .
At this point, an experienced project manager should have heard alarm bells. This change of plan probably was not accompanied by a suitable risk assessment. Risk assessments exist, because they force people to think through their plans and prevent hasty actions.
However the decision was approved, the lorry returned the next day and work began to unload the sections. Observing this, it was clear that the operation was quite tricky, the forklift having to traverse very uneven ground and perform high lifts using a swinging chain attached to several sections of roadway. ( In fact, after experimentation it was decided that the forklift could only mange two sections at a time). The lifting proceeded slowly, with several reverse and forward manoeuvres required to clear various obstacles including the field gateway. Shortly after 14;!0, the accident happened as the forklift, facing down the slope and with a swinging load at full height, overbalanced. The result is reported above.
The absence of a designated first-aider, or anyone prepared to take charge of the medical situation is particularly concerning.
Clearly this was always a fraught manoeuvre, breaking most of the rules that accompany fork lift driving, such as a) never operate on a slope, b) never perform high lifts on swinging loads c) never operate on uneven ground, d) only unload onto the roadside, then perform the transportation manoeuvre
In the opinion of this writer, there was a clear failure of project management, no effective site captain, no safe plan and contrary to the law. . The driver was fortunate to escape with only minor injuries, and it was only by chance that no bystanders were caught by the falling load.
This is the state of the fence/hedge at 87 Englishcombe Lane after the vehicle removal. Note too that the lane surface has been belatedly filled and levelled.