Civil engineering firm Kier has been fined more than £4m after its workers twice struck overhead powerlines while working on the M6 motorway causing cables to land in the path of passing vehicles.
In one incident, an overhead cable the workers brought down hit a lorry. In an earlier incident, a cable landed on the motorway.
An investigation by workplace regulator the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found after one incident Kier workers failed to immediately tell the network provider Scottish Power about the incident.
Both incidents happened on overnight road works part of the smart motorway scheme between junctions 16 and 18 near Sandbach in Cheshire.
During the first incident, a team of three workers were working a nightshift on 28 March 2018. The workers were clearing tarmac from the hard shoulder and loading a truck with a digger. As the driver moved the truck along with an attached loading bucket raised it struck and severed a 11kV overhead powerline that landed in the motorway and in a nearby field. The company failed to immediately tell Scottish Power, which meant the cable was reenergised a number of times while it was lying on the motorway and vehicles were passing.
During the second incident, another team of three workers from a sub-contractor were removing a temporary motorway barrier on 21 January 2019. The crane arm attached to their lorry loader struck an overhead cable which led to an unmarked 11kV powerline being hit and snapped by an oncoming lorry.
HSE found that inadequate planning from Kier meant the vehicle used in the first incident was unsuitable despite other more suitable vehicles being available. There was also no task-specific risk assessment available for the workers.
In the second incident, the workers said that they were unaware of the overhead hazards.
In relation to the first incident, Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Limited, of Clippers Quay, Salford pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. In relation to the second incident, they pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.
In total, the company were fined £4.415m and ordered to pay costs of £87,759.60 at Manchester Crown Court on 12 January 2023.
A council has been fined £280,000 after the death of a six-year-old girl who was hit by a falling tree in her school playground.
Ella Henderson was playing with friends at Gosforth Park First School in Newcastle upon Tyne on 25 September 2020 when a decaying willow tree collapsed. The Year 2 pupil was freed from under the tree by emergency services and taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where she died the following morning.
Her parents Neil and Vikki Henderson today paid tribute to their daughter and said every part of their family’s lives had changed since losing Ella.
Several other children were hit by the falling tree but managed to escape, some with superficial injuries. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the tree had decayed and was in a poor condition. Newcastle City Council had failed to identify the extent of the decay or to manage the risk posed by the tree.
Newcastle City Council pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £280,000 and ordered to pay costs of £8,020 by South Tyneside Magistrates on 10 January 2023.
HSE Inspector Ashfaq Ali said: “This terrible incident led to the avoidable death of a young girl. HSE hopes others will learn from what happened to Ella. Our thoughts remain with Ella’s family.”
Mr and Mrs Henderson said: “We would like to thank the police and the Health and Safety Executive for their thorough investigations, and the kindness and sensitivity they have treated us with throughout.
“We are devastated beyond words to hear of the number of times that this outcome could and should have been changed. No family should ever have to go through what we are going through.
“We hope lessons will be learned from this and feel there needs to be better education and information around which trees are appropriate for school playgrounds and the size they are allowed to grow to.
“We would kindly ask that our privacy is now respected whilst we continue to try to navigate and rebuild our lives around the huge hole that has been created in our life without our beautiful Ella.”
In a statement, Ella’s mum Vikki, from Newcastle, said: “Up until 25th Sept 2020 we had the perfect life. There was not one thing we would have changed. We had two happy, healthy, little girls who were just the best of friends and life was amazing.
“Having lived that life, we now live with a complete hole in our lives. Having a six year old who loves life and wakes up every morning with ‘What are we doing today, Mummy?’, loving everything we did and everywhere we went, to suddenly this life, is just indescribable. Taking her big sister places now and knowing how much she would love everywhere we go and taking photos without her is heart breaking.
“It’s not just the big things like birthdays, holidays and Christmas, it’s also all the small everyday things like not washing her clothes, not buying her toys or clothes but knowing what she’d love, not setting her place at the table or booking a table in a restaurant for four.
“Going to restaurants and being constantly asked ‘just one child’ and having the empty chair at a table for four. Staying in a cottage and instead of her sharing a room together with her sister, there is now an empty bed. It’s just a constant reminder, not that we will ever need one, that she’s not here.
“Seeing everyone’s life move on and their kids and her friends getting older while we stay still; always with a six year old who will never get her front teeth is devastating.
“When you lose a child you live two lives. The one you should be living and the life you have to live.
“Knowing how happy we would be and what we would have done in the last two years compared to the life we’ve had to live couldn’t be further apart.
“The hardest part is that all we did was what every other parent does every day. She should have been so safe at school and knowing that I’m the only one who doesn’t get to pick their child up every day is just the worst feeling.
“When I pass schools on the way somewhere and hear that innocent noise of children playing, I think, that was all she was doing. She was just playing ballerinas with her friends.
“Life is so unfair, and she was so loved and had so much to give this world. As her reception teacher said, “The world is a much sadder place without Ella in it.”
“Every single part of our lives has changed. Getting up every morning, knowing it’s another day without her and another day she’ll miss.
“Being six and healthy makes it very hard to process that she’s not here. I live for my girls and I loved taking them to school every day and picking them up, and doing everything with them, and knowing that I will never take her to school, or a party or holiday again – there are no words to describe how this feels.
“I read something online that sums up this life and it said “When you died my heart was torn in two. One side is filled with heartache and the other died with you.”
An aircraft maintenance company has been fined £230k after a worker fell from height while inspecting wings at its facility in Cardiff.
Iain Mawson, a British Airways Maintenance Cardiff Ltd employee, was placed into an induced coma for three weeks such were the extent of his injuries, which included numerous skull fractures and a brain haemorrhage.
Cardiff Magistrates Court heard how Mr Mawson fell through a gap in the guard rail of the docking platform where safety barriers had been removed.
The 52-year-old also suffered multiple fractures to his ribs, scapula, vertebrae and collar bone as a result of the incident on 10 November 2019 and has not been able to return to work since.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to adequately analyse the risks and avoid removal of guardrail safety barriers or ensure safety barriers were replaced.
British Airways Maintenance Cardiff Ltd of Waterside, PO Box 365 Harmondsworth UB7 0GB pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been fined £230,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,623.
A care home provider has been fined £400k after an eight-year-old girl suffered catastrophic injuries when a tree fell on her.
Bupa Care Homes (CFHCare) Limited pleaded guilty after it failed to provide a system to manage trees on its site at Oak Lodge Care Home in Bitterne, Southampton.
West Hampshire Magistrates Court heard that on 8 July 2021, the girl was out for an evening jog with her father. As she was running on a pavement outside the entrance to the care home, a lime tree fell on her. She suffered serious crush injuries and her leg had to be amputated. It was subsequently found that the tree was diseased with a common fungus and had likely been rotting for several years prior to the accident.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that, over a number of years, Bupa Care Homes had failed to have in place a strategy to manage trees, including adequate risk assessment, proactive surveys, inspections, and monitoring of trees, to identify where remedial work may have been required to prevent risk of the tree falling.
Bupa Care Homes pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and received a fine of £400,000. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £3,275 and a victim surcharge.
A wine and drinks supplier has been fined after a visiting HGV driver was killed after being hit by a forklift truck at its depot in Salford.
John Fitzpatrick was waiting for his trailer to be loaded at Kingsland Drinks Ltd in Irlam on 19 August 2020 when tragedy struck. The 59-year-old, form Oldham, suffered serious head injuries in the incident and died in hospital having never regained consciousness.
In a victim personal statement read out at Manchester Magistrates Court, his partner Paula Fitzpatrick, said how his death had affected their family.
“I cannot really explain what we have lost without describing the kind of person John was,” she said.
“John was a joyful character, full of life, and often described as the life and soul of the party.
“He would talk to anyone and I would often lose him for a couple of hours when he went to the local shop as he would be talking to all the neighbours on the way.
“He was that kind of person – a very hardworking man who would do all the DIY around the house and that included all the family’s odd-jobs.
“At the time of his death, we were planning how our future would look.”
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed in a number of areas. The risk assessment was out of date and not fit for purpose, and there was no pedestrian and vehicle segregation in place in the loading area. Visiting drivers were not given clear information about site safety.
At a sentencing hearing at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 25 January, Kingsland Drinks Ltd of The Winery, Fairhills Road, Irlam, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. They were fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,614.30.
A building firm has been fined for a catalogue of health and safety failings that included two builders being lifted into the air by a digger.
A photograph caught the moment a pair of workers stood in the bucket of a digger to fit a stone into the top of a new home in Littleborough, Greater Manchester.
It was one of a number of health and safety failings found during construction work at The Villas development on Starring Road in Littleborough.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors visited the housing development on 7 July 2021 and issued Hoyle Developments Limited, the site’s principal contractor, with a Prohibition Notice for inadequate scaffolding and Improvement Notices for a lack of welfare facilities and insecure fencing.
HSE inspectors had visited the same housing development site four times between November 2018 and August 2021. Repeated breaches were found including a lack of sufficient welfare, unsuitable controls for work at height and inadequate protection from silica dust exposure. Hoyle Developments Limited was served with multiple Notifications of Contraventions, Prohibition Notices and Improvement Notices.
Hoyle Developments Limited, of Edenfield Road, Rochdale pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £3,165.15 in costs at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 25 January 2023.
A company has been fined after a worker fell into a moulding pit and suffered a broken rib.
The Peel Jones Copper Products Limited employee had opened up the company’s site at Maynard Foundry, Kilton Lane, Saltburn on 27 August 2021. The lights inside the company’s casting room were currently off and the worker had to walk from one side to the other in order to turn them on. While doing this, the worker lost their bearings and fell into one of the company’s pits, suffering a broken rib.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had not properly assessed the risk created by the pits, and that suitable edge protection or covers for the pits had not been provided.
Following a visit by a HSE inspector in 2018, Peel Jones Copper Products Limited had been served with an Notification of Contravention, requiring the company to provide improved protection around the moulding pit. The company had installed edge protection but this was later removed as larger moulds began to be used by the firm. Prior to the incident in August 2021, there had been a previous incident when an employee fell into one of the company’s pits, though there were no significant injuries on that occasion.
Peel Jones Copper Products Limited, of Kilton Lane, Carlin How, Saltburn, Cleveland pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974. They were fined £26,666 and ordered to pay £4,105 in costs at Teesside Magistrates’ Court on 24 January 2023.
A company must pay more than £100k after one of its employees was left with life-changing injuries when a pallet of glass weighing more than one tonne fell on top of him.
Andrew Potts, from Nottingham, was left permanently disabled and reliant on a cocktail of medication after breaking his neck in five places following the incident at a depot in Lichfield on 30 September 2016.
The pallet had shifted during transportation and fell on to the 58-year-old, who has not been able to work since with his wife Dawn having to give up her own job to become his full-time carer.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that United Pallet Network (UK) Limited’s (UPN) system of working was inadequate and not communicated with staff. They also failed to provide adequate training in how to recover shifted loads.
“This has been extremely hard to deal with, emotionally, physically and financially,” Mr Potts said.
“I had to stay in Royal Stoke University Hospital for nine days following the incident.
“Dawn used to come home crying, wondering whether I would make it, and how she and the family would cope.
“I have been left physically, partially disabled.
“I am having to adjust to this new way of being as I continue to struggle to accept what has happened.
“I had recurring nightmares following the incident – I would wake up screaming, sweating or crying.
“The incident left me severely depressed.”
As well as the multiple neck fractures, which resulted in a halo being screwed into his head for several weeks, Mr Potts also suffered many other injuries including broken bones in his leg and feet. Those injuries resulted in eleven pins being inserted into one of his feet, three of which will remain for the rest of his life.
“I can’t walk very far at all, I use walking poles in an attempt to keep me as upright as possible to walk outside of our home,” he said.
“Depending on where we are actually going, like shopping for instance, I use a powerchair to enable me to get around, even so, all these physical tasks are simply exhausting.
“Our lives will never be the same again, the accident was absolutely life changing.
“We are learning to live again and adjusting to enjoy a different kind of life, because life is a gift.”
Stafford Crown Court heard how on the evening of 30 September 2016, a lorry containing a consignment of four pallets of glass arrived at United Pallet Network (UK) Limited’s (UPN) pallet hub at Fradley Park, Lichfield. The pallets had not been appropriately loaded or secured and fell out of the trailer onto Mr Potts as he made attempts to rectify the problem.
United Pallet Network (UK) Ltd of Vantage Business Park, Leicester pleaded guilty to Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and it was fined £94,667 and ordered to pay costs of £7,590.34.
A construction company has been fined £146k after a joiner was crushed and killed by a 20-tonne excavator.
Philip McDonald had been hired by Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd to assist with the construction of a concrete overflow weir structure at Monks Pond, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.
The 48-year-old, from Alfreton, was with colleagues on a road above the work area waiting for the excavator to remove sand from trench boxes when it rotated clockwise and crushed him.
Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard that the Principal Contractor, Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd, had hired in steel fixers and joiners to undertake the work before tragedy struck on 5 September 2017.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been adequately planned, and no instruction had been given to the digger operator, or to pedestrians who were working in the area. The risks associated with the work had not been adequately assessed either, and there was no segregation of pedestrians and plant in this area of the site.
The company had not appointed a banksman to ensure the safety of pedestrians while the vehicle was in operation and there was also nobody to oversee this element of the work to ensure it was carried out safely.
Following the incident, a Prohibition Notice was served stopping further work involving mobile plant/vehicles until the site had been organised in such a way in that pedestrians and vehicles could move without risks to safety.
Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd of Barracks Road, Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, Stourport-on-Severn, DY13 9QB, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and were fined £146,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,621.90
A director has been given a suspended prison sentence and two firms have been fined after a worker was killed when glass panes fell on top of him while unloading a shipping container from a lorry.
Tawanda Chamwandayita, from Edgbaston, Birmingham suffered fatal crush injuries when units of glass fell on top of him while unloading materials from a shipping container.
The glass fell against his leg, knocking him off the rear of the lorry where he fell to the ground in an incident on Walsall Road, Birmingham on 26 October 2017. Mr Chamwandayita, 37, was killed when approximately 17 glass panes fell on top of him from the lorry.
A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and West Midlands Police found the unloading was not properly planned, supervised or carried out safely. The defendants failed to assess the risk of workers falling from the lorry and the risk from large and unsecured items falling from the lorry onto workers while unloading.
Inexperienced and vulnerable workers, some of them just 17-years-old, were working in dangerous conditions with no supervision, inadequate equipment and without any planning or risk assessment in place.
Evergreen Construction (UK) Limited was appointed as the principal contractor but failed to take action to ensure the safety of the workers. The client, Leyton Homes (Perry Barr) Limited (previously known as Hilux Developments Birmingham Ltd and Fast Item Residential Limited) had engaged their own contractor to arrange the delivery and unloading of the container full of large and heavy items, including the glass. The principal contractor was on site but failed to do anything to ensure that the unloading operation was properly planned, appropriately supervised or carried out safely.
Jalal Rana, managing director of Leyton Homes (Perry Barr) Limited, watched the glass be unloaded from the lorry but did nothing to ensure systems were in place the protect the workers. There was no consideration of the competence of the contractors being used or the safety of the work.
Leyton Homes (Perry Barr) Limited, of Walsall Road, Birmingham was found guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £55,084.67 in costs at Birmingham Crown Court on 20 January 2023.
Evergreen Construction (UK) Limited, of Fowler Road, Essex was found guilty of breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations. They were fined £115,000 and ordered to pay £52,561.96 in costs at Birmingham Crown Court on 20 January 2023.
Jalal Rana, of Walsall Road, Birmingham was found guilty of breaching Section 37 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £57,171.95 in costs at Birmingham Crown Court on 20 January 2023.
An Inverness company has been fined after a surveyor died from injuries caused by an electrical explosion.
Christopher Wayne Earley, a director at CWE Asbestos Consultants Ltd, was carrying out an asbestos survey on 10 December 2020.
Mr Earley was injured by an electrical explosion while inspecting an electric panel. He suffered burns to a third of his body, affecting his face, right arm, right side of his chest and left hand. Three months later, Mr Earley, a father-of-four, passed away aged 64 following multiple infections and sepsis complications brought on by his injuries.
He’d been carrying out the survey for Global Energy Nigg Limited at its Shop 7 premises at Nigg Energy Park, in the Cromarty Firth.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the switch room Mr Earley was surveying at the time of the incident was not in an appropriate condition. This created a risk as the live switch panels did not have a warning label indicating they were energised with electricity running through them.
There was no warning of electrical danger at the internal doorway between Shop 7 and the switch room – the internal door itself was missing. This failure to maintain the switch room in an appropriate condition was the underlying cause of the incident. The primary duty of care belonged to Global Energy Nigg Limited.
Global Energy Nigg Limited of Henderson Road, Inverness, Highland pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) and Section 33(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £80,000 at Tain Sheriff Court on 18 January 2023.
A Greater Manchester company has been fined £180k after a female employee lost her hand after it was dragged into a machine.
The Vita Cellular Foams (UK) Ltd employee was operating a blown line machine at the firm’s Oldham Road premises in Middleton on 30 June 2020, when one of her colleagues isolated it from the main power supply after it became blocked with fibres.
The then 23-year-old unscrewed a Perspex window in a bid to identify the blockage, but as she began to remove the fibres by hand, the machine still had some residual power and began to move again, drawing in her right hand.
The tragic incident resulted in three fingers being removed before she required further surgery to have her entire right hand amputated.
In a victim personal statement provided to Manchester Magistrates Court, the woman who is now 25, said the incident had completely changed her life.
“Before the accident, I was right-handed,” she said.
“I have now had to learn to do all of my daily activities again, including writing.
“This is a constant and daily reminder of what has happened to me and the ongoing impact it will have.”
The woman had to undergo four separate operations in a six-week period as well seeing trauma specialists for months after the amputation.
“The accident has deeply affected my life,” she added.
“I have a lot of triggers and am frightened easily by loud noises and bangs.
“I have nightmares at least once a night and don’t like talking or hearing about what happened.
“The accident has completely changed who I am as a person and I am not able to complete so many of the activities I could before, such as walking my dog.
“I am the complete opposite of the person I was before.”
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had no safe system of work in place for removing blockages from machines even though they were known to happen occasionally.
The Perspex window had been added to the machine some years previously to allow engineers and operators to identify blockages, but had not been fitted with an interlocking guard, so moving parts could be accessed through removal of this when the machine was running. Risk assessments had not been reviewed since the window’s addition to include the possibility of employees using it as a way to remove blockages, or to ensure that any excess energy in the machine was dispersed before it was accessed. The company should have ensured that tools were not readily accessible in order to remove the Perspex window.
Vita Cellular Foams (UK) Ltd of Oldham Road, Middleton, Greater Manchester pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. They were fined £180,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,337.00 at Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 17 January 2023.
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