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October 22, 2010

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Roadworks company fined £100k for motorway death

A traffic management company has been fined £100,000 after an employee was struck and killed by a vehicle while working on the M4 near Cardiff.

Sean Hale, 30, was working as a trainee for R P Traffic Management Ltd when the incident took place during the evening of 8 September 2006. He was part of a team of three workers installing traffic cones as part of measures to reduce the speed of vehicles while road-resurfacing work was carried out on the motorway.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that a car hit Mr Hale as he crossed the carriageway to collect traffic cones from the central reservation. The HSE’s investigation learned that Mr Hale and another trainee had been seen crossing the motorway in an unsafe manner several of times on the same evening, despite being supervised by a foreman. Inspectors also found that the firm had failed to put up signs to warn drivers that workmen were on the carriageway.

HSE inspector, Wayne Williams, said: “On the night in question, the gang of three workers consisted of one foreman and two trainees. This was not adequate supervision in what is a high-risk-working environment.

“Trainee road-workers should always be under a high level of supervision when undertaking this kind of work, as part of an overall safe system of work on the job.”

R P Traffic Management appeared in court on 19 October and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay £22,000 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and had fully cooperated with the investigation. It has subsequently reviewed its risk assessment for setting out temporary traffic management. It also revealed that it had booked safety training for workers prior to the accident, which has now been completed.

Summing up the case, Inspector Williams said: “Everyone involved in work on high-speed roads should learn from this tragedy and consider whether they are doing enough to prevent needless deaths and injuries. Motorway works can be very dangerous places unless a high degree of control is maintained.

“Advanced warning signs should always be used when people are working on motorway roadworks to alert drivers that people may be in the road and exercise caution as they approach.”

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