Firm Given Huge Fine Over Worker Death

HSE Prosecution Follows Telehandler Tragedy At Construction Site


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
Engineering firm Costain has been hit with a huge fine following its conviction for breaches of health and safety law relating to the death of a worker during a major residential construction job in Berkshire.

The prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) followed the tragic incident that took the life of 41-year-old Mark Williams in July 2011, during work on the new Parkway development in Newbury.

He was using the telehandler to lift a pallet of tiles onto a roof four storeys above the ground when the machine toppled over. He was unable to get out of the way in time and was crushed to death as it fell on him.

The HSE investigation found the vehicle had been made less safe by the lack of space around it, including the presence of a number of obstructions. The work had been carried out with the boom raised but not extended because of the lack of room. However, this led to the vehicle becoming unbalanced.

As a result, the HSE prosecuted Costain for failing to provide a safe working system for the device.

The engineering firm was found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, in addition to two breaches of Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It was fined £525,000 plus costs of £90,577.

Commenting on the case, HSE principal inspector Steve Hull said: "Mark Williams was required to use a telehandler that was wholly unsuited to the confined area he worked in.

"He had no option but to raise the boom so he could turn the vehicle and in doing so he critically undermined the stability, resulting in the inevitable overturn.
Mr Hull concluded: "He should have been provided with alternative, more appropriate equipment and a better system of work."

The Parkway development saw the creation of nearly 150 new homes in the heart of Newbury.

Expert Opinion
This is a tragic case where a worker lost his life in an accident at work that could have easily been avoided. It is also another instance of a serious incident taking place on a construction site, just days after the Health and Safety Executive brought the importance of safety in this industry to light.

"It is vital employers and site controllers provide employees and contractors working on construction sites with a safe working environment. It is important lessons are learned following this incident and steps are taken to ensure contractors and employees are given the appropriate training, particularly when operating heavy machinery.

"In our work we have seen the devastating impact of accidents at work on the victims and their friends and family. Therefore, it is crucial construction companies improve safety standards to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future."
Stephen Nye, Partner