£146k fine for company after joiner crushed to death by 20-tonne excavator

A construction company received a fine of £146k after a 20-tonne excavator crushed and killed a joiner.

fine for company

Philip McDonald was working with Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd.

The project involved the construction of a concrete overflow weir structure at Monks Pond, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

The 48-year-old, from Alfreton, was with colleagues on a road above the work area waiting for the excavator to remove sand from trench boxes.

Tragically, the excavator rotated clockwise and crushed him.

Inadequate planning and risk assessment

Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard the Principal Contractor, Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd, had hired steel fixers and joiners to undertake the work before tragedy struck on 5 September 2017.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the work had not been adequately planned.

Plus, the digger operator and pedestrians working in the area received no instruction.

There was inadequate risk assessment and no segregation of pedestrians and plant in this site area.

The company had not appointed a banksman to ensure the safety of pedestrians while the vehicle was in operation.

In addition, there was nobody to oversee this element of the work to ensure safe execution.

Prohibition Notice

Following the incident, a Prohibition Notice stopped further work involving mobile plant/vehicles until pedestrians and vehicles could move around safely.

Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd of Barracks Road, Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, Stourport-on-Severn, DY13 9QB, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

As a result, the firm received a fine of £146,000 and an order to pay costs of £4,621.90.

Subsequently, the company appointed liquidators in September 2022.

“Easily preventable”

HSE Inspector Katherine Cotton said, “This was a tragic incident that was easily preventable.  Those in control of work have a responsibility to organise their sites and devise safe methods of working, in relation to vehicles and pedestrians, and ensure they are implemented.

“Construction site vehicle incidents can and should be prevented by the effective management of transport operations throughout the construction process.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

This story originally appeared on HSE website: Construction firm fined £146,000 after joiner crushed to death

For guidance on safe methods of working in relation to vehicles and pedestrians, consult the CIP Construction Health & Safety Manual or online at CIP Knowledge.