Fatal accidents at work continue to occur far too frequently. Tragically, many of these incidents are preventable and are the result of employers failing to properly plan, manage and control the work that is being carried out.
Four Workers Die in One Incident
This month alone, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has reported on four separate prosecutions where failings by employers led to the death of a worker. In one case, as many as four workers were killed in one incident.
The four men were working on the construction of a large steel structure as part of the foundation for a large Pressure Test Facility. The structure, which weighed several tonnes, collapsed on the top of them, causing fatal crush injuries.
The group were working for Hazegood Construction Ltd. Encompass Project Management Ltd was the principal contractor, with Hazegood operating as a contractor.
When the HSE investigated the incident, it found serious flaws in the planning, management and monitoring of this complex project on the part of Claxton as well as Encompass and its company director David Groucott.
Both companies pleaded guilty in court to breaching health and safety regulations. Claxton Engineering Services Ltd was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £100,000, while Encompass Project Management Ltd was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.
David Groucott pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of Health and Safety at Work Act. He received a prison sentence, suspended for two years, and an unpaid community work order.
Failure to Carry Out Legal Duties
“Those sentenced today failed the four workers who died. They didn’t carry out their legal duties, leading to the events which caused their deaths,” commented HSE Construction Division Head of Operations, Annette Hall.
“This was a long term, large scale and complex civil engineering project, which needed to be planned, designed, managed and monitored effectively,” she added. “The tragedy here is that, in the months leading up to the accident, any one of these parties could and should have asked basic questions about building the structure safely. Such an intervention could have avoided the tragic outcome of this entirely preventable accident.”
Worker Receives Fatal Head Injuries
In a second fatal incident, a man died after being struck on the head at work.
He worked for a company that buys, refurbishes and sells Heavy Goods Vehicles and trailers, and was dismantling a trailer when he was hit by the trailer roof, causing fatal head injuries.
The HSE investigation found that the company had undertaken this task before and had an established method in place. However, it failed to properly consider the risks involved in this work and did not provide the worker with any information in relation to his safety when ‘stripping down’ the trailers.
The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It was fined £475,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000.
“This tragic accident was preventable had all parties considered the risks involved and taken appropriate measures to reduce that risk,” said HSE inspector Judith Botwood.
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