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PC AND CONTRACTOR FINED AFTER EXCAVATOR DEATH

Demolition worker died after being struck by excavator bucket 

A Principal Contractor and a demolition contractor have been ordered to pay £34k in fines and prosecution costs following the death of a Salford worker, who was struck by an excavator bucket. 

Demolition worker John Cain, 36, was working on a project that involved demolition of a pub in Salford on 22 November 2004 when he was fatally injured by the bucket.

The principal contractors were partners Barry Godliman and Robert Watson and Windmill Demolition Company Ltd was the specialist subcontractor carrying out the demolition work.

The scene of the incident in Salford

Messrs Godliman and Watson pleaded guilty to breaching HSW Act Section 3(1) by failing to ensure the safety of workers on the site. and were both fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £2,000 towards the cost of the prosecution. 

Windmill Demolition, of Denton, was found guilty of the same offence and fined £15,000 with no costs.

Contractors share responsibility 

HSE Inspector Stuart Kitchingman said:

“This case demonstrates how important it is for contractors to be aware of their health and safety duties, especially when there are several companies working on a project.

Barry Godliman and Robert Watson were the principal contractors on the site and so should have made sure all work was carried out safely.

Windmill Demolition had been hired to oversee and carry out the demolition work, and so had responsibilities for managing safety as well.

I hope this case will encourage construction companies to do more to manage health and safety on sites effectively.”

Comment

The press statement from HSE does not indicate how the incident occurred. There is no suggestion that a quick hitch device was involved.

We are aware of some 38 excavator related deaths over the last 10 years. The majority (42%) involve being struck by the bucket. Other significant causes are reversing (16%), slewing (13%) , overturning (8%) and going forward (8%).

The penalties in this case are lower than in recent prosecutions involving deaths. The sentencing guidelines state that fines should start at £100k were the offence is a siginificant cause of the death.

It may be that connection between the death and offence was unclear and or the death was not a ‘siginicant’ cause. The fines will also reflect the means of the defendants.

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