Infobite 256: Two companies and employees sentenced after 18-year-old worker’s death

Two companies and two people have been sentenced after an 18-year-old construction worker was killed while working on a house-build construction site in Lincolnshire. Two building contractors and their employees were all fined following the death of the worker.

The 18-year-old along with another worker had been hired to clear debris from manholes at a house-build construction site. While work was taking place, the colleague was asked to move work so a vehicle could pass. However, he was unaware that the 18-year-old was lying in the road, with his head and torso in a manhole in front of the van.

One of the van’s wheels entered the manhole, crushing the 18-year-old. He was taken to hospital but died as a result of serious crush injuries.

An HSE investigation found that neither the principal contractor nor the groundwork sub-contractor had ensured that the work was planned in such a way to ensure that workers were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

A manager for the groundwork sub-contractor sent employees to carry out the task without a risk assessment or method statement in place despite having previously produced such information in the past.

In addition, workers had not been trained to work in a road, had not been provided with any equipment to ensure the work was carried out safely and had not been provided with any instruction on any safety measures to be used at site.

The principal contractor was fined over £300,000, while the groundworks sub-contractor was fined over £24,000. Employees from the companies were both found guilty of contravening Section 7a of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and received suspended prison sentences, with one required to complete 200 hours of community service.

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE inspector said: “This was a completely avoidable incident, caused by a multitude of failures by both companies and both of the individuals who appeared in court.

“All of the defendants failed to adequately plan the work to identify the risks, failed to ensure that the individuals carrying out the work were trained and competent to do so, and failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place and followed.

“The result was the tragic loss of life of a young man who was looking forward to a bright future.”

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