Two engineering companies in court for HSE offences

News Article

Two engineering companies have recently been prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations after two separate incidents – the first involving the death of a father of three and the second resulting in a worker’s leg being amputated.

In the first incident, Derbyshire-based civil engineering firm, RMB Contractors, pleaded guilty to breaching safety laws after worker, Darren Richardson, suffered fatal crush injuries.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how a 21-tonne tracked excavator had been reversing towards a stationary dumper truck when Mr Richardson was crushed between the two vehicles.

The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay more than £24,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Medani Close said: “Back to back plant activities should be avoided as both pedestrians and vehicles could be put at a higher risk of coming into contact with each other.

“If the two separate work activities cannot be avoided, then the area should be safeguarded and effectively managed with segregation in place, for example using fencing or barriers to delineate the ‘no go’ areas for pedestrians.”

In a separate second incident, a worker had to have his left leg amputated after a forklift truck drove into him.

West Hampshire Magistrates’ Court heard how the employee, who was working for Puma Engineering and Construction Limited was seriously injured whilst he was acting as a banksman for a forklift truck which was loading pipe spools onto a flatbed truck.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to properly plan, organise and carry out the lifting operation in a safe manner.

Puma Engineering and Construction Limited pleaded guilty to the health and safety offences and were fined £8000, with costs and ordered to pay full costs of more than £3,000.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said, “There were other safer, reasonably practicable options that the company could have taken to prevent the forklift coming into contact with the individual. The safest method in this instance was to use tag lines or push sticks to control the load, as opposed to controlling the load by hand.”

Lara Murray, an Associate Solicitor and health and safety legal expert, said: “These two cases illustrate how slipshod working practices can lead to tragic consequences.

“Such incidents are a reminder of the importance of health and safety rules which are not just ‘pointless red tape’ but are there to protect the lives of workers and members of the public.

“If your company has not recently undertaken a review of health and safety procedures and risk assessments, the New Year is a good time to do so.

“Ultimately, a safe working environment not only protects your employees, but also leads to greater profitability, due to a reduction in downtime and less likelihood of facing a HSE fine or other sanctions.”

For more information on drafting workplace safety guidance and conducting risk assessments which are compliant and up to date, please contact us.