B286 Network Rail Shared Learning NRL23-07

Serious leg injury whilst manual handling


Issued to: All line managers, Safety Professionals and accredited contractors
Ref: NRL23-07
Date of issue: 15/11/2023
Location: Crewe High Output Operating Base
Contact: Mark Farrow, Project Manager (HSE), SCO Capital Programmes Aonghus McGinn, Health & Safety Manager, SCO Capital Programmes


On 23rd August 2023, two operatives were lifting and manoeuvring a cladding panel on a rooftop. One of them lost their grip and dropped the end they were holding. The panel fell onto their leg, cutting through their trousers, causing a deep laceration above their right knee.
The panel being lifted was 6.9m long, 1m wide, and weighed 71kg with bare metal edges on three sides. The injured person was treated on site by a first aider and taken to hospital by ambulance where they were treated for a ruptured tendon. They will be required to wear a leg brace for at least two months, followed by further assessment to
gauge the recovery of the tendon.

Underlying causes

The sub-contractor’s Risk Assessment Method Statement (RAMS) covering the manual handling of the panels did not adequately address all the hazards and risks associated with the task. Had they completed an adequate Work Activity
Risk Assessment (WARA) and followed the principles of a T.I.L.E assessment (Task, Individual, Load, Environment) at the point-of-work (i.e., POWRA), all the risks may have been identified and appropriately addressed. The presence of sharp edges on the panels was not detailed or acknowledged in the subcontractor’s RAMS. There was also no reference to the potential hazard in the material data sheets supplied by the roof panel supplier, but this is being addressed by the PC with the manufacturer.

It was stated in the subcontractor’s RAMS that the operatives had received manual handling training but there was no evidence to support this. The PPE worn on the legs and arms was not robust enough to protect from the potential of cuts due to the sharp edges of the panels. However, suitable gloves (cut 5 - C) were being worn at the time of the accident.

An alternative panel delivery methodology using a crane instead of a telehandler would have enabled the panels to be placed on the roof at right angles to the purlins / ridge. This would allow the panels to be more easily slid into place and reduce the manual handling required. It is understood that staff had always performed the task this way, including walking backwards and on uneven slopes,
thus they may have become complacent to the risks involved. Use of a crane to better place the load would potentially reduce the risk.


B286 NWR Shared Learning NRL23-07

Acknowledgement Slip

First Name
Phone Number
Email Address
Company Division
Do You Have Any Questions? *