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Costain fined £1.2m after MEWP accident

27 July 2020

Costain has been fined £1.2m after a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) containing two workers collapsed onto its side during work on a bypass. One of the workers suffered life-changing injuries.

Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard that in the summer of 2015, to support the construction of the A556 bypass in Cheshire, work had started to build a pier designed to eventually support a bridge. This involved erecting a steel cage. On 3 August, two workers on a MEWP were working on the structure, when it collapsed.

The first employee sustained life changing head injuries and the second a leg fracture. A third worker nearby escaped injury by moving away just in time.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found there was no temporary support for the reinforcement cage during construction of the central pier. Costain was principal contractor and Brenbuild was appointed by Costain to construct seven bridges and an underpass.

Costain and Brenbuild were both aware the cage was visibly leaning and that workers on site had raised concerns. Neither company recognised the inherent instability of the reinforcement cage or took measures to ensure the work could be carried out safely. Brenbuild failed to stop work to prevent injuries from the risk of collapse and to implement control measures to prevent instability. Costain failed to plan, manage and monitor construction of the central pier.

Brenbuild of Parkway Business Park, Scunthorpe pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £21,730.11.

Costain of Vanwall Business Park, Maidenhead, pleaded guilty to breaching sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £1.2m and ordered to pay costs of £21,644.51.

HSE inspector Deborah Walker said: “This incident could have been easily prevented and the risk of collapse should have been identified by both companies.

“If a suitable safe system of work had been in place, this incident would not have occurred, and the two workers would not have suffered these injuries.”

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