Financial Sanction Imposed on Construction Business For Excavation Fatality

| General


Towards the end of January 2023, the industry regulator the Health and Safety Executive imposed a substantial monetary sanction in the amount of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds against a building business and favor of a self-employed member of the workforce specializing in joinery services. The level of fine imposed by the regulator was so severe on a relative level because the incident involved crushing injuries to a member of the workforce after a collision with a twenty-stone excavator. To underline the significance of the incident, the person involved failed to recover from his injuries.       

What Happened In The Case?

The venture had been organized to build a concrete overflow construction barrier. The construction organization had employed the self-employed member of the workforce as part of a team of persons specializing in joinery and steel to work on the project and on the fateful day he was positioned on the road on a higher level than where the project was taking place and was awaiting a piece of excavation equipment which for context weighed approximately twenty tonnes to take some building materials from some sewer boxes.

Turn For the Worse

However, matters nosedived when the piece of excavation equipment lost control, moved clockwise, and a workforce member ended up sustaining crushing injuries and sadly passed away.         

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

The industry regulator issued correspondence restricting more construction activity involving such equipment before it would consider permitting more work. When the Regulator delved into the circumstances it discovered evidence that the entire project was characterized by the: 

  • poor planning 
  • inadequate communication to persons working on foot employed to carry out in the vicinity of the excavation equipment from those in a supervisory position 
  • no measures had been put in position in terms of the measurement of risk 
  • those with responsibility for the safety of persons on the site had not adopted measures to separate persons working on foot from working equipment and
  • there was no person designated for responsibility monitoring.   

Feet to the Fire?

On being presented with the evidence, the construction business to its credit admitted to regulatory violations of Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. This attempts to protect against risks to the welfare, health, and safety of working persons. Regulation 27(1) applies to sites where such activity is involved and to routes provided for traffic. The HSE was damning as the construction businesses had ignored the regulatory requirements. It had not organized the working environment to ensure the safe passage of persons proceeding to and egressing the working environment on foot or using other modes of transport. Due to the failings and the tragedy on the site, the HSE seems to have wanted to hold the building company accountable, for the case to deter future businesses who take a cavalier approach and impose a financial sanction of approximately one hundred and fifty thousand pounds plus costs totaling just under five thousand pounds.

Lessons Learned?

To mitigate the risk of such travesties taking place in the future, legal professionals in this sector need to be making clients aware of this case and ensuring they comply with Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. In particular, they should ensure:

  • projects of this nature are planned professionally
  • a person is designated to monitor the safety of nearby banks
  • ensure there is a safe working distance between persons working on foot and excavation equipment
  • risk assessment measures are implemented and
  • those responsible for oversight are communicating with persons operating such equipment. 

ASSESSING FIRMS

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES 

[SOURCE 1] Construction Index – Contractor fined £146k after joiner crushed to death by excavator – Construction Index - Contractor fined £146k fine after joiner crushed to death by an excavator (theconstructionindex.co.uk)

[SOURCE 2] Regulation 27(1) The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 - The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (legislation.gov.uk)

[SOURCE 3] Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

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