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Suspended sentences after dumper death

30 November 2020

A company director and project manager have both been handed suspended custodial sentences after an untrained and unsupervised worker was killed when the forward tipping dumper truck he was operating overturned.

Swansea Crown Court heard how on 1 October 2016 the employee was working alone at a construction site in West Aberthaw, Vale of Glamorgan. He was operating a dumper truck around a construction site, which had no designated traffic routes.

The worker was operating the vehicle when it overturned causing him to either be thrown or jump from the vehicle. The worker was not wearing a seatbelt.

The 38-year-old man was found two days later with fatal crush injuries at the bottom of a ramp, which formed part of a spoil heap. His injuries were consistent with being struck by the rollover protection structure (ROPS) bar of the overturning dumper truck.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the access ramp was uneven, made up of loose ground; and the slope and cross slope of the ramp exceeded the dumper truck’s machine maximum operating capacity. Untrained operators regularly used construction vehicles on routes that were not suitable for the vehicles and there was no effective management of health and safety on the construction site.

Project manager at TSD Group Graham Kuhlmann of Parcau Road, Bridgend pled guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, he received a 21-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Sole director of Pro’conn Limited, the principal contractor at the site, Kevin March of Fields Park Road, Pontcanna, Cardiff pled guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, he received a 32-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

HSE inspector Paul Newton said: “The risks associated with untrained operators using construction vehicles on uneven ground with excessive slopes are foreseeable. This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident.

“Those responsible for managing health and safety on construction sites should ensure that traffic routes are safe, designed and managed, for the vehicles using them; and only those with the necessary skills, training and knowledge should be asked to operate construction vehicles.”

Firm fined for separate dumper accident

In a separate case, a construction company was also fined earlier this month after a driver was trapped when a dumper truck overturned at a site in Liskeard, Cornwall. Plymouth Magistrates’ Court heard how on the 12 April 2019 an employee became trapped when the truck overturned on the construction site. The employee was not wearing a lap belt and was operating the dumper truck without deploying the roll-over protective structure. He suffered multiple crush injuries to his body, when the dumper overturned.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company, Jim Elliot & Son, had failed to assess the competence and the skills of the operator ahead of work on the refurbishment project. The company also failed to induct the employee on starting work at the site thus failing to identify that the employee had the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to operate the dumper.

It was also identified that the company had failed to undertake a risk assessment or prepare a construction phase plan. These measures, along with a suitable site induction would have identified that the employee did not have the required competence, training, skills and knowledge to ensure that the work was carried out safely and the dumper operated in accordance with its operator’s manual.

Jim Elliott of The Grove, Crow’s Nest, Liskeard, Cornwall was found guilty of breaching Section 13(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £850 and ordered to pay £2,000 in costs.

Comments

Why has it taken the HSE “FOUR YEARS” to get this case to a conclusion in court?

Michael Norton, 30 November 2020

Very low fines given that someone was killed. Given the sentencing guidelines, the companies must have been both low turnover organisations.

From the information within the article, it would appear that the dumper seat belt may not have been worn.

The majority of homebuilders banned the use of dumpers on spoil heaps a couple of years ago in a drive to prevent such incidents.

Lack of knowledge, training and supervision all played their part in the death of this young man.

A preventable event.

David Ford, 1 December 2020