Construction Firm Hit With Huge Fine Over Near-Fatal Accident

Worker Nearly Dies After Nine-Tonne Lorry Runs Over Him

23.09.2014

A construction firm has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over an incident that saw one of its staff almost killed by a nine-tonne dumper truck.

JB Leadbitter, an Oxfordshire-based firm, was investigated by the HSE in the wake of the accident at a housing construction site in the Devonport area of Plymouth in October 2010.

The incident saw 62-year-old David Windsor suffering a severe brain injury, as well as fractures to his face, ribs, pelvis, right leg and foot, plus his right arm. The injuries were life changing and after spending two weeks in intensive care, he was then placed in a high-dependency brain injury rehab unit until April 2011.

An HSE investigation found Mr Windsor had been wearing hi-vis clothing, but was hit by the reversing truck as he crossed the site back to his lorry, having delivered a mortar silo to the site.

It found that as the principal contractor, JB Leadbitter had not complied with the law on the safe management of works traffic, as it had failed to ensure the separation of vehicles and pedestrians at the site.

As a result, the company was found guilty at Plymouth Crown Court to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Due to the severity of the near-fatal incident, it was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay a similar amount in costs.

Commenting on the incident, HSE Inspector Jonathan Harris noted it is now "unlikely" Mr Windsor will ever return to work, with the incident being one that "simple forethought" could have prevented.

"JB Leadbitter failed to identify risks to site workers and visitors, such as delivery drivers, in their construction phase plan and made no provision for segregating site vehicles and pedestrians at the top end of the site.

"Other workers on this large site were frequently exposed to serious risks as a result of this lack of planning."

According to HSE figures, seven people are killed and 93 seriously injured every year by workplace incidents involving moving vehicles.

Expert Opinion
This man suffered severe injuries as a result of a company’s failure to identify the risks workers and visitors to a construction site were exposed to. Construction sites are some of the most dangerous places to work, which makes it absolutely unacceptable that risk assessments were not carried out to reduce the likelihood of accidents of this nature, which resulted in life-changing injuries.

“Sadly, through our day-to-day work we see that accidents at work are not uncommon. It is vital employers and site controllers provide workers and contractors on construction sites with a safe working environment. Hopefully lessons will be learned from this incident, which could have resulted in a fatality, and employers begin to take their responsibility for worker health and safety seriously."
Stephen Nye, Partner