Company Fined Over Worker Injuries After Incident In Grimsby

Grimsby Construction Firm Fined After Worker Has Ankle Shattered

12.11.2014

A construction firm has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over an incident that left one of its workers with such a badly broken leg that he is no longer able to work in the industry.

The case involved groundworker Jamie North, who was aged 49 when he suffered the serious injury in March 2013.

He was installing piles at a school in Grimsby for a new science block while working for Topcon Construction, a task that involved sinking them into the ground and then cropping the top.

However, the cutters used for the task were not the right ones, which meant the piles were not necessarily severed properly when their cropped tops were toppled.

As a consequence, one pile that had not been fully cut through twisted and fell on Mr North, causing multiple leg fractures. He needed two operations, had screws fitted in his leg and spent a year off work. The victim also spent 21 days in hospital in total after developing a blood clot on his leg.

The HSE investigation found that Topcon had been recommended a power cropper for the thick piles being laid down, but it only hired a smaller one that would cut through the concrete shell, with a disc cutter then being used to slice through the multiple steel parts.

As a result, one of the steel bars on the pile that hit Mr North had not been cut through and it was this that caused it to buckle and fall in the way it did.

Topcon pleaded guilty in the hearing at Lincoln Magistrates' Court to breaching regulation 4(3) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and regulation 29(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

It was fined £10,000 with costs of £1,980. In addition, Topcon must pay Mr North £10,000 in compensation.

Discussing the incident afterwards, HSE inspector Martin Waring noted Topcon had ignored two warnings that the equipment and felling methods it was using were not safe.

"They should have foreseen that the felling of piles, in an area that workers could wander into, presented a high risk of injury," he said.

Expert Opinion
Construction is one of the most dangerous industries in the UK, according to the latest HSE figures on accidents in the workplace. This incident is yet another example of how serious health and safety failings can be, as a man suffered severe injuries and is unable to continue working in the construction industry due to his injuries.

“The HSE found the incident could have been avoided if the correct equipment had been used during the work. It is vital this accident at work act as a reminder to companies in the construction industry to take their responsibility for the health and safety of employees and contractors seriously and to comply with the latest HSE regulations to reduce the likelihood of workers suffering serious injuries.”
Stephen Nye, Partner