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BRACKET FAILURE TRIGGERED FATAL SEQUENCE OF EVENTS

High fine and costs for major contractor after worker ‘dragged’ from platform 

Amec Group Ltd has been ordered to pay £633,000 in fines and prosecution costs after after a construction worker fell 22m to his death on a Manchester project in 2004. Co-defendant Shawton Engineering Ltd received a nominal fine of £1,000 following liquidation of the company.

Christopher Heaton was working on a development of riverside apartments in Manchester city centre when he was “dragged over the guardrail” on a scaffolding platform after becoming entangled in a chain. A second workman was injured in the incident which has had a long-term psychological impact on him.

Liverpool Crown Court heard (29 June) that Mr Heaton was using a chain from a scaffolding platform to adjust a steel beam three stories above him when a supporting brackets failed. He was struck by a falling steel block and became entangled in the operating chain which dragged him over the edge of the scaffolding.

HSE investigators found the incorrect studs were used to secure the chain and the work had not been properly planned or monitored.

Major construction site  should have been properly planned and managed

Amec Group Ltd was found guilty of breaching HSW Act 1974 Section 3(1) by failing to ensure the safety of workers, following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. The company was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £333,866 towards prosecution costs.

Shawton Engineering Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching HSW Act 1974 Section 2 by failing to provide and maintain a safe system of work. The company is in administration and a nominal fine of £1,000 was imposed with no costs.

Neil Jamieson, HSE Principal Inspector for Construction, added:

“It is horrifying that Christopher Heaton was dragged off a scaffolding platform more than 20 metres high, causing him to plummet to his death.

This was a major construction site, and the work taking place there should have been properly planned and managed.

If either Chris’s employer, Shawton Engineering, or the principal contractor on the site, Amec, had acted differently then his life could have been saved.”

Speaking after the hearing, Christopher Heaton’s father, Len, said:

“Nobody can imagine the impact his death has had. After eight years, it is still hard to believe this has happened. Chris would still be alive today if simple health and safety rules were adhered to, and hopefully lessons have been learned to stop this type of incident happening again.”

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