Paul Collins, 51, had been working for Tannington Transport for just three months when the accident occurred on the 8th September last year.

Mr Collins and two colleagues had been instructed to recover an abandoned 17-tonne excavator that had been sitting at the side of a hedge for sometime. Because the tyres on the machine were flat and it was sunken into the ground it couldn't be towed so the three men devised a plan to raise the machine using bottle jacks. Once raised, they planned to slide a sheet of metal under the tyres which would make the excavator easier to tow.

During the lifting operation one of the heavy duty vehicle jacks popped out of place and hit Mr Collins on the head. He was taken to hospital and diagnosed with a fractured skull.

Incident could so easily have been prevented

The HSE told Ipswich Magistrates' Court that Tannington Transport had failed to identify potential risks or produce a plan to ensure the job was done safely. Tannington Transport, which operates across East Anglia, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. They were fined £6,000 and ordered to pay £3,291 in costs.

HSE inspector Anthony Brookes said: “This incident could so easily have been prevented if the company had chosen to act on its duty of care toward the recovery team as it set off to carry out a non-routine and very hazardous task.

“Employers have a responsibility to provide systems of work that are, as far as practicable, safe and without risk to health. Tannington Transport clearly failed in this regard and as a result Mr Collins was very seriously injured and could have been killed.”

Gwen Kirby-Dent, a solicitor at Thompsons Solicitors’ Serious Injuries Team said: “Any head injury is potentially very serious and in some cases they can present lifelong functional limitations. You don't muck about with jacks and seriously heavy pieces of earth moving equipment without a plan. Even a basic risk assessment would have identified the problems this procedure would throw up and had it done so Mr Collins injury would have been avoided.”