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News added on 08.05.2018

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Dumper truck tragedy

A construction worker died when his dumper truck overbalanced at the edge of a spoil heap. What strategies could his employer have used to prevent this tragic accident?

Mr Carter (C) was driving a forward tipping dumper truck to the top of a spoil heap on a construction site in May 2016, when the vehicle became stuck at the edge of the heap and overbalanced. The 29-year-old employee attempted to jump clear of the truck, but it flipped over and struck him, causing fatal injuries to his head and chest.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the accident and found that the risks associated with the creation of spoil heaps had not been suitably assessed. It was common practice on this and other sites for dumper trucks to access spoil heaps without barriers in place to stop them overturning. In addition, the spoil heap in question was particularly hazardous because an excavator had removed some of the material, creating a sheer face.

The vehicle C was operating had an open cab. Following the accident, the firm changed the design of dumper truck that it uses to a type with a full safety cab around the driver. It also changed its method of creating spoil heaps, so that dumper trucks no longer needed to drive onto them.

Tonic Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to safeguard its worker under s.2(1)  Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £200,000, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170 as well as costs of over £5,500.

The employer should have used a safer method of creating spoil heaps that did not involve a dumper truck having to access them. Alternatively, they could have put safety measures in place, including bunds at a safe distance from the edge, to reduce the risks of dumper trucks overturning.

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