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April 4, 2024

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Company fined after employee crushed to death

A company in Hertfordshire has been fined after an employee was crushed to death.

James Rourke lost his life after being struck and run over by an excavator at Sarazen Gardens, Brampton on 18 November 2019.

James and his family had celebrated his sister Katie’s 21st birthday the weekend before the fatal incident.

James Rourke. Credit: HSE.

The 22-year-old site engineer had been attaching ‘warning’ work signs to fencing around the site when he was hit by the vehicle.

James, from Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, had only joined his employer, Materials Movement Limited, months before after graduating from the University of Birmingham with a degree in geology in the summer of 2019.

The firm had been hired to undertake ground clearance works at Sarazens Gardens in preparation for the building of new houses.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Materials Movement Limited had failed to plan and manage the work at Sarazen Gardens. The company failed to properly supervise the work that James and the excavator driver were undertaking to ensure it was safe. The Baldock firm also failed to ensure the work was planned and managed to eliminate any chance of James working near the excavator.

“Our profound loss is ever present”

James’ mother, Clare, said in her victim personal statement: “The sunshine has been taken from our lives and the dark gap is immense.

“Our profound loss is ever present; James is always missing. Missing from family events, Christmas, birthdays, holidays. Unknown to newborn family members. Unknown to new friends.

“Our house has a bedroom with no owner. Possessions we cannot bear to touch, photographs we cannot look at.

“We were an even family of six, now an odd family of five – incomplete, unbalanced.”

Materials Movement Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £133,330 and ordered to pay £8,500 in costs at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on 22 March 2024.

HSE Inspector Martin Paren said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man. This death could have easily been prevented if his employer had properly planned, instructed, and supervised the work.

“Our thoughts today are with the family of James, who should have been protected from such harm at work – because of the failings of Materials Movement Ltd he was not.”

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