Construction contractors sentenced after culvert collapse
Monday 25th January 2016
From the archive: Just so you know, this article is more than 3 years old.
Enterprise was appointed by Kent County Council to replace a damaged culvert (a structure that allows water to flow beneath roads or railways) under Tudeley Lane Tonbridge. Enterprise assigned most of the work to Topbond.
Michael Skitt and two co-workers entered an area between two culverts to clear a channel for the remaining water to flow through. They started to remove loose material, but hadn't yet started digging, when the culvert that was due to be replaced gave way.
One man jumped out of the way, another was hit but escaped and Skitt was trapped. He spent 26 days in hospital recovering from a broken shoulder blade and shin, and a dislocated knee.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said the structure's stability was not properly assessed and a lack of sufficient planning meant control measures were not implemented. The culvert's original designers/engineers had informed Enterprise and Topbond that there was a possibility the structure could collapse. It should either have been demolished earlier in the project or support structures put in place.
Enterprise (AOL) was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £22,876 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of Sections 22(1) and 28(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Topbond admitted to failings under Sections 13(1) and 28(1) of the same regulations. It was fined £70,000 plus £22,876.60 costs.
"The culvert was being replaced because it had been damaged previously. Just this one piece of information should have been enough to ensure both contractors assessed the stability of the culvert throughout the work and took appropriate measures to ensure people were protected from the risk of collapse," said HSE inspector Nicola Wellard.
Larry Newman, 37, was part of a team sent out by subsidiary firm Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering to install temporary traffic management measures and repair a barrier that had been damaged in a collision on the A2 road. The crew deployed a lorry-mounted crane to remove a post footing that had snapped. During the work, the crane became unstable and swung backwards, hitting Newman on the head and killing him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
As we reported on 27 January, a crew from Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering and workers supplied by Littlewood Fencing were deployed on 1 October 2012 to repair an Armco barrier that had been hit by a beer lorry. They were also clearing up the thousands of beer cans on the carriageway, removing debris and setting up temporary traffic management systems.
On 11 January 2011 Travis Hale, a lorry driver for Punchards Haulage responsible for transporting four concrete panels to a construction site in Edinburgh, drove away from Hanson Packed Products’ yard in Derby with only three vehicle straps securing the load instead of the recommended nine to 18. Hale was killed shortly afterwards when one of the panels fell off the trailer and hit him.
George Hancock was working at Wilko’s Worksop distribution centre when the incident happened in December 2011. After an inquest at Nottingham Coroner’s Court in December 2013, when the jury recorded a verdict of accidental death, Bassetlaw District Council prosecuted Wilko following an investigation into what happened.
The fraud was revealed last October during an episode of Newsnight following investigations by the BBC and CITB. Thousands of applicants will have to retake their HS&E exam as the CITB announced it is recalling 6,000 tests, and more than 2,000 people are required to reapply for their Site Safety Plus certificate.
Twenty-two year old Craig Logan and an experienced crane operator were working on an unloader crane at the terminal jetty when Logan was trapped between drive motors fitted on the crane’s cab and cross beams on the boom.Clydeport failed to properly assess the risks associated with releasing the cab when it became stuck, according to an investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).