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April 17, 2012

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Bus collided with “invisible” cherry-picker

An HSE inspector described an incident, in which a construction worker fell from a cherry-picker into the path of a moving bus, as an “almost unbelievable” series of events.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the incident took place on Euston Road in London, in the early hours of 4 March 2011. National construction firm Galliford Try Construction Ltd had been contracted to fix snagging issues at the Renaissance Hotel and Chambers, as part of a £103 million restoration project.

The firm arranged for two workers to remove tape from the outside of an apartment window on the third floor of the building’s residential block. The scaffolding had been removed from the site, so the men accessed the tape by moving a cherry-picker from a compound on Euston Road to another on Midland Road.

Leszek Soltysiak reversed the vehicle out of the compound and on to Euston Road, and raised the operator platform so it could clear a fence. He continued reversing unaware that a double-decker bus had just turned into the road. The cherry-picker had no visible warning lights and the workers weren’t wearing any high-visibility clothing, despite it being dark. Mr Soltysiak’s colleague waved at the bus to signal it to stop, but the bus driver didn’t see the workers or the cherry-picker.

The top of the bus hit the operator platform, which was overhanging in the road, and knocked the jib into a brick gatepost. The collision catapulted Mr Soltysiak from the platform and he fell in front of the moving bus. The bus braked, but he was dragged 15 metres down the road, and was found partially underneath the front nearside of the vehicle. He suffered serious head, arm, pelvis and leg injuries and was unable to return to work for a year owing to his injuries.

HSE inspector Paul Hems explained that Galliford Try Construction had failed to properly plan or supervise the work. He said: “This worker narrowly escaped death after a series of events, which almost seem unbelievable but, in fact, could have proved fatal.

“A 14-metre-long slow-moving machine, not suitable for use on a public highway, was moved against the flow of traffic on to a three-lane road. Both workers were without high-visibility clothing and there were no visible warning lights on the cherry-picker despite it being early morning and still dark, which made it – and the men – effectively invisible to the bus driver.

“The company also failed to provide adequate and relevant information and instruction for their employees.”

Galliford Try Construction appeared in court on 11 April and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £12,000  and ordered to pay full costs of £16,460.

SHP approached the company for a statement but it refused to comment.

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Alexhoward_121
Alexhoward_121
12 years ago

The cost of a £12k fine can be easily absorbed on a £103m contract by cut backs on costs or putting workers under pressure to complete early.

A perfect example of a ‘Calculative’ company, I bet there are lots of nice corporatley logo’d files with imressive titles in the office & safety awards on the wall, but when you turn over a couple of stones you find the culture portrayed on the wall isn’t the one that’s preached on the site!
I’d like to see how much the civil action gets from them!

Andrew
Andrew
12 years ago

Granted all your comments are relevant, big compant – low fine, lack of SSoW, numeraous regulatory failures. But what of indivdual responsibility?

The more emphasis that is placed on companies being responsible for H&S, the responsibilty employees seem to take, particularly of themselves. They obviously thought it was OK to take an unlit MEWP on a stealth-trip against the traffic in the dark because they did it.
There’s accidents and there’s bloody stupid!

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

£103 million restoration project – fined £12,000, does that seem reasonable to anybody, given the number of aggrevating factors?

Amazing another stake holder gets it completely wrong and is treated rather leniently.

The fact that no one was killed is by the by, the evidence of failure to extend a duty of care to both employee and the public was overwhelming, you have to ask yourself, is this a deterent.

Me thinks not? They must be laughing thier socks off.

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

Had this incident resulted in a fatality, surely a charge of Corporate Manslaughter would have applied given the circumstances leading to the foreseeable incident?

The fact that there was no fatality was fortunate. But the failure to reduce and control forseable risk remains the same.

The resulting fine seems seriously quetionable given the evident failure by a company deemed competent, and this competence is validated by RoSPA no less?

I hope that if I cock up, I am in front of this beek.

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

I believe there is a corporate failure, the scaffold used initially could have been used to remove the offending tape. Commercial decision to remove?

What are thier procedures for operating MEWPS in a high risk environment?

R.A. & M.S.?

Who planned this work? Competence is obviously and issue?

I doubt that the CPP allowed for this scenario?

Was local authority consent aquired? I have worked at St Pancreas and Euston, and no MEWP may be used without consent in Euston Road.

Etc. etc.

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

Mr Soltysiak should get a good No Win No Fee Lawyer and sue the hell out of them.

PTSD is the trump card, nightmares, day dreams, sweats, loss of labido, lack of concentration, vertigo. All of which are difficult to counter argue.

That will hurt more than the fine did.

No wonder they had no comment to make, they were still looking for thier socks.

No aknowledgement of remorse is remiss, but somehow not uncommon.

No moral fibre I say.

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

Presumably the individuals involved in “planning” this cock up were not deemed individualy liable hence the charge against the PC?

The HSE state: The company failed to provide I & I – MHSW applies.

No lifting plan for the lifting of persons – LOLER applies.

No adequate planning, no SSoW, no monitoring, – CDM applies.

No consideration of public protection, inadequate RA – MHSW applies

Yet again regulatory requirement has not been seriously addressed by the court or HSE.

12k is a joke?

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

I agree to the extent that individuals are accountable where there is a strict duty, however, the HSE state ” the company failed” no mention of individual failure?

I have had collegues nicked as individuals, and can only surmise that no individual was deemed negligent in a duty of care? hence no conviction against them.

As you say, they as a company are well versed in H & S rehtoric, yet the evidence shows they do not practice what they preach? And they got away with it lightly in my view.

Bob
Bob
12 years ago

Where does rope access fall within the hierarchy of control for WAH?

Why remove the collective scaffold protection before work is complete?

These IPAF competent ops were put to work in a knowingly dangerous environment by a competent PC yet individual libility is aired as significant factor?

The primary factor is the PC inability to remove the offending tape earlier with limited risk.

Filberton
Filberton
12 years ago

Presumably both Galiford-Try and all the operators were (and I mean were not are!) certified under IPAF. Presumably IPAF will be pulling certification of those involved until re-trained?

Granvillejenkins
Granvillejenkins
12 years ago

Piss Poor Planning Leads to Piss Poor Performance

Whoever was responsible for the planning element , the approval of the safe systems of work and those responsible for carrying out the work in such a hazardous manner should all have had their day in court.

Only then will the message start to get through that health and safety is everyone’s responsibility and not simply that of the corporate entity who in most instances are far to remote from the on site activities.

Regards Granville

Ray
Ray
12 years ago

‘SHP approached the company for a statement but it refused to comment.’ Hardly surprising after this debacle. Yet, if you check their website they are all too keen to promote their ‘Recognised excellence’ including 14 Gold and Silver RoSPA Awards.

Galliford Try (Morrisons) with a turnover in excess of £1 billion, a fine of £12,000 and costs of £16,460 is yet another example of the judiciary not recognising a series of serious safety failures which could have easily caused a fatality.

Ray
Ray
12 years ago

Bob, it is unlikely that even if the incident had involved a fatality the company would have been prosecuted pursuant to the CMA. The failings would have to been high up in senior management, not locally, as I suspect was the case.

Incidentally, since the CMA came into force four years ago there has only been one (successful) prosecution. During this elapsed time there have been about a thousand work-related fatalities – hardly good use of the Act.

Ray
Ray
12 years ago

Phil, who will re-train the supervisor and manager responsible for the work?

Ray
Ray
12 years ago

Organisations and not individuals get prosecuted because they are the duty owner for the systems, processes and SSoW employed by the company. Companies are also responsible for ensuring staff are competent for the task, ie training, supervision, instruction.

Individuals have a responsibility under h&s law, however individual workers are rarely prosceuted because they seldom have the means to pay a fine and save for the odd exception, are not solely responsible for the failure.

Ray
Ray
12 years ago

I presume the tape on the window was an oversight from a previous contractor or works. However, what would be really interesting to know if there was a method statement prepared for the removal of the tape or whether someone just took upon themselves to use their own initiative? Unfortunately the article begs more questions than it answers.

Sales
Sales
12 years ago

should have used rope access!!

Sales
Sales
12 years ago

lets be honest ipaf training is a joke!
the same as cscs multiple guess tests, both are totally inadequate.

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