A Berkshire based construction company and a bulldozer operator have both been sentenced by Chelmsford Crown Court after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Investigation uncovered significant health and safety failings.
The HSE reported that a 39 year old employee suffered fatal crush injuries after being hit by a reversing bulldozer. The worker died at the scene.
The employee was working on a project to rebuild the M25 motorway embankment. He was tasked with directing loaded lorries into the correct position. The bull dozer operator then flattened the soil load.
The worker was directing a vehicle ready to tip its soil when he was struck by a reversing bulldozer.
The HSE inspection revealed that an appropriate risk assessment had been carried out which did consider the safety of pedestrians working alongside plant machinery.
But, on the day that the incident occurred, ground conditions had changed and vehicles were required to reverse into position. The HSE told the Court that inadequate safety precautions had been made to protect pedestrians and the bulldozer operator had failed to take extra care in allocating any workers on foot
The construction company that is now in liquidation was fined £2,000 after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Judge stated that due to the severity of the case the fine would have been £200,000 had the firm still been solvent.
The bulldozer operator was sentenced to a six month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £2,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 37(3)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
After the hearing HSE Inspector Sandy Carmichael said:
“Safe operation of heavy plant, including bulldozers, means continuously checking that pedestrians are clear of moving vehicles”.
“What had seemed like a small change in the task was really very significant. Construction work needs good planning – and good planning includes thorough risk assessment”.
“Any modification to the plan means the risks need to be re-considered very carefully. Re-assessing risk when circumstances change is crucial, as this tragic incident clearly shows.”
“On average, each year seven workers die as a result of incidents involving vehicles or mobile plant on construction sites. A further 93 are seriously injured.”
For more information about traffic management on construction sites log onto the HSE website at:http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/vehiclestrafficmanagement.htm