PC Harrington Contractors Ltd must pay more than £175,000 after an
employee died and another was seriously injured during the construction
of the new Wembley Stadium.
The HSE was called in following the incident on 15 January 2004, when Patrick O’Sullivan, a carpenter working with a concrete gang, died after a lifting operation went wrong.
Concrete was being poured at the base of one of the stadium’s main stair cores, using a large skip supported by a crane. Mr O’Sullivan, whose job was to build the shuttering and formwork for the reinforced concrete used by PC Harrington, and who was not directly connected with the main work being carried out on the site, happened to be below a platform as the skip was manoeuvred overhead.
A long, looped rope was hanging from the skip and part of it became tangled with the platform, pulling it off its mountings. It fell, hitting Mr O’Sullivan and a second worker, Martin Carroll. Mr O’Sullivan died at the scene, while Mr Carroll sustained compound fractures to his leg and has still not returned to work.
PC Harrington, which entered a guilty plea at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on 3 April, was sentenced on 9 July at the Old Bailey for a breach of s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £150,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £25,203. HSE inspector Giles Meredith told SHP that in delivering the fine the judge took into account the company’s financial position, which had been seriously affected by the recession.
The judge also made reference to an earlier conviction under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 following a previous crane incident, which occurred in November 2003.
David Faulds, the company’s group health and safety director, told SHP: “PC Harrington deeply regrets the death of a valued employee and the injuries sustained of another equally valued employee.” He pointed out that the company takes health and safety “very seriously”, and has achieved a five-star health and safety management audit by the British Safety Council, as well as its Sword of Honour for two years running.
Inspector Meredith warned companies of the need to think very carefully about the risks of objects colliding during lifting operations. He said: “There were many thousands of crane movements at Wembley. This incident demonstrates that when things do go wrong during lifting operations, the outcome is often very serious. Our thoughts remain with the family of Patrick O’Sullivan, who live with the consequences of this tragic event.”
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In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.
Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.