Eye-Watering Financial Sanction For Construction Business Over Head Injury

In mid-March 2023 a company specializing in construction services has been handed down a significant financial sanction by the Health and Safety Executive after a workforce member sustained a major head trauma requiring twenty-eight weeks of hospitalization due to the construction businesses’ conduct. The Southwark Crown Court assessed the circumstances and imposed a substantial financial sanction in an amount in excess of one-quarter-of-a-million pounds on the construction services provider.  

What Happened In The Case?

At the time of the incident, the member of the workforce emanating from the male demographic was working at a residential house on behalf of a sub-contractor. The work-related activities involved the processing of concrete through the use of pumping equipment. The concrete pumping machinery was in the process of being cleaned following its use in transferring cement into the extension of a ground floor of the house. During the course of the cleaning procedure the persons responsible for operating the equipment used for pumping the concrete found that there was an obstruction. Without any warning the blockage appears to have caused a rapid alleviation of pressure. There was a correlative and causative relationship between this, the action of the piping going out of their control, moving in the manner of a whip and hitting the head of the member of the workforce. The injuries inflicted by the industrial machinery piping on the colleague was so severe that he spent just shy of two hundred days hospitalised as a result of the accident. It later transpired that the person using the equipment did not possess the requisite qualifications, skills or experience to operate the piece of machinery and it was one major contributing factor in the cause of the incident. The regulatory authorities appear to have frowned upon what had taken place in the incident as the member of the workforce sustained damage to his brain and right up to the present day he reportedly still suffers with physical troubles when trying to move, talk and remember.                 

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

When regulatory enforcement arm the Health and Safety Executive probed into what had taken place at the time of the incident it found that the person with accountability for using the piece of industrial equipment did not have the capability to use it. The authorities also found that the business had neglected in its duties to put the correct processes in position to conduct the work-related activities in a safe manner. To underline the seriousness of what had taken place when the case eventually meandered its way to the Crown Court located at Southwark it handed down a financial sanction in an amount in excess of one-quarter-of-a-million pounds as the business had violated sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 which places legal obligations on businesses to protect the welfare of members of the workforce and wider public.        

Lessons Learned? 

The circumstances of this ruling are a lesson to all those businesses which operate similar equipment. They should be advised to mitigate the likelihood of putting the workforce and wider public at risk by complying with the Health and Safety Executive regulatory requirements by: 

  • cleaning such equipment in a specialist section of the working environment
  • turning off the power supply to isolate it
  • making sure the keys are taken out 
  • ensuring the correct oversight procedures are in position and
  • making sure persons operating such machinery have the competence to use it. 

If you have experienced something similar, or have an opposing viewpoint, please kindly leave a comment on the article or contact us.  
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