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News added on 13.08.2019

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Risk assessment

Lack of control measures led to death

A worker at a Docklands Light Railway (DLR) site in London was killed when he was struck by an excavator. Who was responsible, and was there anything his employer could have done to prevent the accident?

Mr Campbell (C) was a site operative and lead supervisor of piling operations on a DLR construction site. He was employed by the principal contractor, Clancy Docwra Ltd (CD). During night work, C was working near a 35-tonne excavator to which an excavator-mounted vibrator (EMV) had been attached. C had been disconnecting lifting accessories from a metal pile that had just been extracted from the ground when he was struck by the EMV and crushed against a concrete wall. He died at the scene from his injuries. Another site operative who was directly next to him was also at risk of being struck.

The HSE investigated and found that CD had failed to ensure the safety so far as is reasonably practicable of employees and non-employees working on the site. CD should have properly considered the risks of the work and put appropriate control measures in place, such as exclusion zones and the mandatory use of excavator safety levers. It should also have ensured that all site operatives were fully aware of the risks involved and that effective communication procedures were in place on site.

The investigation also found that Mr Walsh (W), who was the site supervisor and had also been operating the excavator at the time, failed to take reasonable care of others on site at the time.

CD pleaded not guilty of breaching its duties to safeguard employees and non-employees under ss.2(1) and 3(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was found guilty and fined £1,000,000. It was also ordered to pay costs of over £108,500.

W pleaded not guilty to breaching his duty to take reasonable care of others affected by his work under s.7 Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was found guilty and given a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for twelve months, and was ordered to pay costs of £15,000.

The principal contractor and employer was found to have failed to maintain a safe site. Appropriate control measures, such as exclusion zones, should have been in place, and employees should have been fully informed of the risks they faced. The excavator operator was also found to bear some personal responsibility for his colleague’s death.

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