An Essex-based construction company was fined following a fatal incident involving concrete pumping equipment, which malfunctioned during an upgrade project at the Port of Felixstowe.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard how R. W. Hill (Felixstowe) Limited was employed as the main contractor working to replace the Berth 7 roadway at the Trinity Terminal of the port.
The firm had sub-contracted part of the project to a specialist concrete pumping contractor and a separate concrete laying contractor.
During the incident, a flexible delivery hose through which concrete was being pumped became momentarily blocked, then cleared under pressure, causing it to violently whip round.
A worker who was employed by the concrete laying sub-contractor was killed, while a fellow worker suffered cuts and bruising.
Following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) it was discovered that the main contractor, R. W. Hill, had failed to effectively plan and manage the safe pumping of concrete because an exclusion zone around the flexible delivery hose had not been enforced.
The investigation also found the company did not adequately supervise, instruct nor provide suitable information to sub-contractors and failed to monitor the pumping operations to ensure the ongoing safety of workers.
R.W. Hill pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches and was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £13,000.
Following the court’s ruling, HSE inspector Glyn Davies said: “This tragic incident could easily have been prevented had the company involved acted to identify and manage the well-documented risks involved in concrete pumping by the implementation of suitable safe systems of work.
“As this case sadly demonstrates, poorly managed concrete pumping operations can and do kill construction workers when industry safety guidance is not followed.”
Samantha Randall, a Solicitor and employment law expert with Palmers, said: “As this case demonstrates, the main contractor on any construction project has overall responsibility for ensuring that the site’s health and safety procedures are adhered to and all workers and visitors to the site are protected from harm.
“Employment risk assessments will only protect the safety of workers if they are properly implemented. Getting it wrong, as this case sadly illustrates, can lead to avoidable workplace fatalities.”
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