Building firm prosecuted for safety lapse as worker falls and is hit by a bus


A leading building contractor was this month fined £12,000 plus substantial costs after one of its workers fell from a cherry picker causing him to be hit by a London bus.

At the time that the incident occurred, Mr Leszek Soltysiak was carrying out repair work at the famous St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Chambers, in front of the railway station. He was accompanied by a colleague.

Their employer, which was Galliford Try Construction Ltd, was taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after they investigated the site and those involved, and their Inspector found that the contractor did not carry out the proper health & safety planning, or supervise the works properly.

Mr. Soltysiak fell four metres from the cage of a 20-tonne cherry-picker in Euston Road. He was then hit by a bus, which pushed him down the road for 15 metres.  Not surprisingly he suffered serious injuries and it could easily have been fatal.

The worker incurred head, arm, leg and pelvis injuries in the accident. It was stated in court that he had only recovered sufficiently enough to return to work earlier in 2012.

Galliford Try Construction Ltd, of Cowley Business Park, Uxbridge, Middlesex, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The firm was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay an even higher additional figure, the full prosecution costs of £16,460, by the magistrates.

What can we learn?

As with all such cases, it is important to draw out the lessons for others to learn and to implement avoiding action to help reduce future threats to construction safety.

Whenever work has to be done in congested and busy locations, as is often the case in cities like London, work must be subject to careful risk assessment and this should bring out clearly the need for it to be isolated from the public and from passing traffic, by means of physical separation (obtaining permission for hoarding) or by timing the works to avoid busy periods and using timed road or pedestrian closures.

When work is under way there must be sufficient supervision to lessen the risks of anyone falling from height – one of the most common sources of accidents in the relatively high-risk construction industry.

It is of course easy to be wise after the event and non-one has unlimited management and supervisory resource. This is where Health and Safety Consultants can be of great value: so long as they are not the kind of firm that simply makes their clients tick boxes. Hands-on safety consultants such as those of McCormack Benson Health & Safety are worth every penny of the reasonable fees that are charged for their services. Their practical advice and pro-client attitude make them effectively an extension of the management team, and one that can save money overall as well as keeping firms compliant and their workers more safe.