Firm Changes Health And Safety Procedure Following Mechanical Digger Tragedy

Work Accident

30.09.2009

An engineering firm has been forced to overhaul its health and safety procedures after a man was crushed to death by 14-tonne mechanical digger.

61 year old grandfather and mechanical engineer, Charles Kinsella was killed when he was hit in the chest and trapped by the hydraulic arm of the vehicle he had been called to repair at the Watford site of construction company P.B Donoghue Ltd in January 2007.

Following a full investigation of the incident by the Health and Safety, the company has now implemented a raft of changes and brought in new risk assessment procedures to try and prevent a similar tragedy happening again.

Mr Kinsella’s widow, Rachel, has now received a six figure sum in compensation but would rather her husband’s employers had taken the issue of health and safety more seriously before he died; “No amount of compensation will ever help me to get over the loss of Charlie. I still wonder whether he might be alive if the proper training had been given and risk assessments made 3 years earlier.”

Sarah Griggs of Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Work Accident Team, who negotiated the out of court settlement 3 months before the case was due to come to trial, said; “While this case brought about vital and much needed changes to procedures at P.B Donoghue, we hope it also serves as a warning to all companies that they have a responsibility to review where and how accidents in the workplace could happen and put systems in place to prevent them.”

“Irwin Mitchell hopes that Mr Kinsella’s tragic and avoidable death can help highlight the need to for companies to carry out risk assessments and be compliant with Health and Safety Regulations. Employers need to recognise that the safety of their employees is of paramount importance,” Ms Griggs continued.

Mr Kinsella died when the Komatsu Excavator he was helping to repair was being operated by another employee who did not realise that the control lever for the machine’s digging bucket and mechanical arm was trapped in his jacket pocket. By not checking that the control lever was in the neutral position first before engaging the arm, the arm and bucket swung immediately to the right as soon as the safety catch was taken off. It took less than two seconds for the arm to reach and hit Mr Kinsella, who died at the scene.

In their report into the death, the Health and Safety Executive stated that “The incident occurred as a result of a failure in the system of work to ensure that the movements of the bucket were only made when persons were in a safe position.” and concluded that ‘the incident would not have occurred if advice provided by the excavator manufacturer had been followed”.’