Nothing in place to prevent entry into danger zone worker struck on head and killed by 16-tonne excavator

A construction company has been prosecuted for health and safety failings after a worker was struck on the head and killed by a 16-tonne excavator.

Dean Myers who worked for HACS Construction, was undertaking groundwork activities in a partially excavated trench at a site in North Yorkshire.

The groundworks team was preparing the trench for the laying of new drainage when Dean moved to the foot of an existing manhole directly adjacent to the trench.

With nothing in place to prevent his entry into the danger zone of the excavator, the 56-year-old exited the manhole via a makeshift opening to investigate. However, the excavator driver and other workers were not in a position to see that he had entered the danger zone. When the excavator met resistance whilst digging, the moving bucket swung into him.

It struck him on the head, causing catastrophic injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The company should have put in place measures including the use of trained plant marshals for high-risk activities

HACS Construction had failed to identify or assess the risk arising from using the existing manhole chamber as an improvised refuge. This meant the company failed to implement a system whereby workers were prevented from entering the dangerous working zone of the excavator while the machine was being operated by a driver with limited sight. There was also inadequate supervision on site, alongside a failure to carry out monitoring visits which would have identified crucial safety failings.

Last month, HACS Construction pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. At Leeds Magistrates’ Court, the company was fined £330,500 and ordered to pay £9,141.80 in prosecution costs.

Commenting on the case, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Ben Caines said the incident would have been avoided had HACS Construction simply ensured that adequate control measures and safe working practices were identified and followed.

‘The company should have put in place measures including the use of trained plant marshals for high-risk activities, such as the work [Dean] was undertaking. Such measures are widely recognised and used across the construction industry as well as being advised within HSE and industry guidance,’ he added.

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By Published On: February 26th, 2024Categories: Latest Articles

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