July 3, 2018

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In Court

Kier convicted following severe injury at concrete block building site

Kier Infrastructure pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety legislation following an incident which left a worker with life-changing injuries.

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Image courtessy of Graham Richardson/Flikr

Newport Magistrates’ Court heard that agency worker Peter Walker, 42, suffered serious injuries when a 6.93 tonne block of pre-cast concrete fell on his leg on 15 August 2016.

Mr Walker had started work at the Maerdy Bridge site in South Wales, where Kier was principal contractor on a Network Rail project to replace two bridges, a few days before the accident.

The court was told that on the day of the accident the concrete units that would form the bridge were being relocated on the site. Mr Walker was on a ladder removing lifting chains from a concrete block when the block toppled over and his leg was crushed between the fallen unit and the one behind it.

The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) subsequent investigation found that Mr Walker’s injuries could have been prevented if Kier had provided adequate supervision for the job.

Specifically, work on the day of the accident and the previous day involved the excavator moving its boom while Mr Walker was up the ladder, which would have been prevented with proper supervision. Other examples of poor supervision included a failure to issue a ladder permit, and the excavator moving while the concrete units were suspended, which was expressly forbidden in the lift plan.

The court indicated that sentence will be passed on 17 July.

Ian Prosser, HM Chief Inspector of Railways, said: “Mr Walker suffered devastating injuries in this incident and we are pleased that the guilty plea recognises the seriousness of the offence.

“We are absolutely committed to protecting the health and safety of passengers and railway staff and, as this and previous prosecutions demonstrate, will not hesitate to take enforcement action or prosecute when appropriate.”

Keir Infrastructure and Overseas Limited was found guilty of failing to discharge its duty under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was therefore guilty of an offence contrary to Section 33(1)((a) of the Act.

In July, Kier was fined £600k for the incident and forced to pay costs of £25,767.97.

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