A groundworks company has been fined following a site incident which resulted in a worker suffering serious injuries.
Southend Magistrates Court heard how a dumper truck had been left unattended with its engine running on an incline. A handbrake failure caused it to roll forward, crushing a worker against a pile of concrete blocks.
The incident, which happened during excavation work at Ghyllgrove Junior & Infants School in Basildon, resulted in the worker suffering serious internal injuries including six broken ribs and a collapsed lung. He also sustained multiple fractures to his arm and a broken nose.
An investigation into the incident by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that S&K Groundwork Solutions Ltd of Maldon, had failed to regularly inspect and maintain the handbrake of the dumper, to ensure it remained effective.
Inspectors also discovered that the soil heap had been placed too far back from the excavation, preventing it from acting as a safety barrier and there were no wheel stop blocks or chocks available for use by workers. Additionally, the investigation found the company failed to ensure this work was appropriately supervised and effectively monitored by management.
S&K Groundworks pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws and was fined £23,000 plus costs of £5220.65.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Glyn Davies said “This case highlights the importance of regularly inspecting and maintaining construction vehicles, including site dumpers, to ensure they do not deteriorate to the extent that they put people’s safety at risk.
“In this case, the employee’s life-threatening injuries could have been avoided if the company’s management had regularly and effectively monitored and audited their safety management systems. Use of suitable stop blocks near the edge of the trench excavation, or use of wheel chocks, is one such method that may have prevented this incident, which could easily have been fatal.”
Lara Murray, an Associate with Palmers who specialises in health and safety law, said: “Such cases serve as important reminders for employers to ensure that a comprehensive risk assessment is in place and safe working practices are adhered to on-site to ensure the safety of all workers.
“Having in place the correct workplace health and safety procedures not only looks after your workforce but could also protect a company’s reputation and ultimately its bottom line.”
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