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September 18, 2023

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Two construction firms fined after man suffers serious injuries

Two construction companies have been fined a combined total of £120,000 after a groundworker suffered horrific injuries when heavy drainage pipes fell on top of him.

The heavy pipes which fell on Mr Pennell. Credit: Health and Safety Executive.

Anthony Pennell was rushed to Royal Stoke University Hospital having sustained several fractures to both sides of his pelvis, as well as a fractured vertebrae and bleed on the spine, following the incident at a site in Fradley Park, Lichfield on 3 September 2019.

The pipes, each weighing around 160 kg, had been suspended on the forks of a telehandler while being moved to a different area of the site.

Although one pack of pipes had already been transported safely, the incident happened while moving a second load. When the telehandler came to a stop, Mr Pennell tried to re-position a dangling skid so that the pack could be lowered properly.

However, at this point, the load fell on top of him.

Mr Pennell, who was 32 at the time, spent nine days in hospital before he was able to be discharged to his home in Cleethorpes.

Four years on, the 37-year-old has not been able to resume his job as a groundworker, and is instead only able to work as a landscaper, which pays him less.

Unsafe and badly planned operation 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that both Mr Pennell’s employer and the principal contractor (Readie Construction Ltd) failed to ensure that the operation was properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a safe manner.

They also identified issues in relation to the level of knowledge and experience of those involved in the lifting operations, and in the companies’ overall management and coordination of the telehandler usage between contractors.

R O Donnell Plant & Civil Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,784.

Readie Construction Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,784.

HSE Inspector Will Gretton said: “This horrific incident could easily have been avoided had the work been properly planned and suitable control measures implemented to properly secure and safely transport the load.

“This case should remind all on construction sites and wider industry that all lifting operations must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner to ensure the health and safety of those involved or affected by the work.”

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