Worker severely injured by building site truck
After falls from height, vehicle accidents are the second most common cause of serious, reportable construction safety problems. This was a nasty example that shows that such incidents can happen under the management of large principal contractors as well as small ones.
J B Leadbitter and Co Ltd was the firm in question, based in Abingdon, Oxon. The site concerned had been a Ministry of Defence site in Mount Wise, Devonport, and J B Leadbitter was now responsible for building 159 new homes on it.
On October 7th, 2010, driver Mr David Windsor, a delivery driver, had to deliver a mortar silo to the building site. He was struck by a 9-tonne dumper truck as he crossed the area to where his lorry was parked.
Delivery driver hospitalised
The very serious injuries to his right side (where the impact happened) included facial injuries, broken ribs, fractured pelvis, right arm damage and foot injuries.
Mr Windsor was lucky to survive but the effects will probably never go away completely. He was in intensive care for a fortnight, then he had to be kept in a high dependency unit for a month. Finally he went into a brain injury rehabilitation unit. It was only 6 months afterwards in April 2011 that he could finally go home. It is thought unlikely that he can ever return to work.
What caused the accident? The facts, as established by an HSE investigation, are reported as follows:
- Mr Windsor was correctly wearing hi-vis clothing, as required to maximise his visibility whilst on site
- The principal contractor had an inadequate construction phase safety plan
- It did not identify risks to both site workers, drivers and other visitors
- The top end of the site’s roadway had no provisions for vehicle/pedestrian segregation, or defined walkways
- It was found that other workers were often put at risk by these failings
High fine and costs for principal contractor
At Plymouth Crown Court, J B Leadbitter and Co Ltd was judged to be guilty under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. Their penalty was a big £100,000 fine and equally huge costs of £100,000 approximately in addition.
HSE Inspector Jonathan Harris, said, pertinently:
“Simple forethought and planning could have avoided this happening”.
HSE further reminds us that according to recent annual averages, 7 workers die per year on building sites after vehicles or mobile plant have struck them; while another 93 are badly injured.
Given the lapse at this contractor, it is a good idea for others to refresh themselves by perusing the HSE advice on this subject, here. While ongoing help and advice from a building safety professional (which may mean the difference between having a secure site with safe workers, and a costly appearance in court) can be obtained at your premises by contacting McCormack Benson Health & Safety.