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February 18, 2010

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Firm fined GBP 185k after worker crushed by truck

A major construction company has been fined £185,000 for failing to separate vehicles from pedestrians on a building site in Lancashire.

Carillion JM Ltd, which is part of the multinational Carillion plc group, was the principal contractor for the construction of Kingsway Business Park in Rochdale. On 11 November 2008, Michael Gresty was helping to build a roadway around a large pond at the site. He was using a petrol-driven saw to cut plastic blocks, so they could be used to form the road.

The saw ran out of petrol and Mr Gresty began walking towards colleagues, who were working on the other side of the pond, to ask if they had any spare fuel. While he was making his way across the site, he was run over by a reversing tipper truck. He sustained multiple fractures, a damaged left kidney, and has had a pin put inserted in his right knee. He has subsequently lost one inch in height, and has been unable to return to work owing to his injuries.

HSE inspector Neil Martin revealed that the truck was not being guided by a banksman, and there was no walkway to separate vehicles from pedestrians. He said: “It is not acceptable that a construction company, which employs 50,000 people around the world, did not carry out the right risk assessment, or put a system in place for preventing collisions.

“It would have been simple to mark out a basic pedestrian walkway, using cones and tape, and have someone responsible for guiding reversing vehicles. If Carillion had done this, Michael Gresty would not have suffered agonising injuries.”

Carillion JM Ltd appeared in Manchester Crown Court on 12 February and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974, and reg. 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, for not carrying out a risk assessment. In addition to the fine it was ordered to pay £9821 towards costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it created a pedestrian walkway and now ensures that vehicles under 6.5 tonnes are guarded by a banksman. Vehicles over this weight have been fitted with CCTV, which is used by the drivers when they reverse.

The company was previously fined £3500 in January 2009, relating to a separate case when a driver of a dumper truck lost control of the vehicle and hit a bank.

Inspector Martin added: “Michael Gresty is lucky to be alive following this very serious incident and he will never fully recover. His injuries could easily have been prevented if Carillion had followed basic health and safety procedures.

“I hope this case demonstrates to all companies how important it is to separate pedestrians from vehicles on construction sites.”

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