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DUMPER TRUCK DRIVER DIED IN DEEP EXCAVATION

Developer and builder prosecuted after truck toppled over edge

A property development company a contractor have been ordered to pay a total of over £180,000 after workman Geoffrey Crow died when a 5 tonne  dumper he was operating fell into a deep unguarded excavation. The vehicle overturned and landed directly on top of him causing his instant death.

St Albans Crown Court heard that Mr Crow was working at ground level whilst others were working to excavate a deep basement for a swimming pool at a new build property belonging to Kevin Andrewss the sole director of Lois Gastoneaux Ltd.

The dumper went into the large excavation shortly after the vehicle was “freed” when it became stuck near the unguarded edge. The HSE investigation found that despite operations being underway for some three weeks at the site:

  • Edge protection – no measures were in place to prevent people or vehicles falling into the excavation;
  • Collapse prevention – no measures to prevent collapse of the excavation sides;
  • Competence – workers on site were not familiar with operating plant machinery of the size used; and
  • Experience – workers did not have relevant experience in respect of such a large excavation.

The seat belt on the machine Mr Crow was driving was not operational at the time of the incident and others stated they would not usually wear seat belts when operating the machines.

The court was told the range of issues were all contributory factors in the death, and that standards at the site fell well below those expected.

No protection whatsoever

Lois Gastoneaux Ltd, from Harrow was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £28,033 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulations 37(6) and 31(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Michael Brett, of Buckinghamshire, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 37(6) and Regulation 31(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Speaking after sentencing HSE Inspector Stephen Manley, said:

“Working with construction plant can be extremely dangerous, which is why appropriate safety measures must be in place at all times to protect workers and others on site.

In this instance, Mr Crow died as a direct consequence of the lack of controls of the risks involved in the excavation operations. There was no protection whatsoever to ensure workers, whether driving machinery or otherwise, did not fall into the deep excavation.

A number of people were at work with Mr Crow and they were all at risk of serious harm through the absence of physical controls, as well as poor maintenance of equipment and a lack of training and information provided to workers.

There are clear industry standards setting out how to identify and manage risks, and guidance is widely available. So there is no excuse to let operations continue without having the proper health and safety measures in place.”

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