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TWO MAJOR CONTRACTORS FINED OVER MOTORWAY DEATH

Engineer fell to his death from motorway embankment during maintenance work

Serco Ltd and Birse Civils Ltd have been prosecuted and ordered to pay over £1/2m in fines and prosecution costs following the death of an engineer who fell 12m from an embankment on the M5 motorway near Clevedon. 

Cecil Grant, aged 42,  fell to his death after stepping over a barrier to repair a faulty CCTV roadside camera in January 2006. A risk assessment had not been undertaken and and Mr Grant was required to provide his own torch.

HSE prosecuted Mr Grant’s employers Serco Ltd, of Bartley Wood Business Park, Hook, Hampshire, and principal contractor, Birse Civils Ltd of Grimstone Grane, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, for failing to protect Mr Grant when he was working at the site near Junction 20 Northbound, between Clevedon and Gordano.

Bristol Crown Court heard Serco Ltd did not plan, manage and monitor the work properly, meaning Mr Grant was not warned about the drop. Both companies had also failed to cooperate with each other to make sure workers at the site were not put in danger.

An inquest in 2009 heard from Police Insp Ben Batley who said Mr Grant and a colleague were sent out at night to a site which was know to be dangerous and without means of lighting the scene. The men bought their own torches as there was no other lighting at the site. Police video showed there was no safety barrier to protect motorway workers once they had gone over the crash barrier.

Deceased man not made aware of dangerous drop 

Serco Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) Work at Height Regulations 2005 and Regulation 11(i)(a) Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It was fined a total of £200,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £36,186. Birse Civils Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(i)(a) Management of Health & Safety at Work Regs 1999. It was fined £100,000 with costs of £180,093

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Steve Frain said:

“There were major failings in the way this work was planned which sadly resulted in Mr Grant’s tragic death. When employees are working at height, proper plans must be put in place and workers made aware of possible risks. In this case, Mr Grant had not been made aware of the dangerous drop where he was working. If he had been, a tragic incident could easily have been avoided.”

David Leckie, representing Serco, said

“We’ve always fully accepted our responsibility for this tragic accident. But most importantly, we’ve put in place policies and procedures to ensure there will never be a repeat of such a tragic accident.”

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One Response to “TWO MAJOR CONTRACTORS FINED OVER MOTORWAY DEATH”

  1. HSE ENFORCEMENT WEEKLY UPDATE 5th OCTOBER 2011 | PP Construction Safety News Desk Says:

    […] Serco Limited – fatal fall side of motorway: £200,000; […]