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Contractors fined over worker's death

NCE stock health and safety

Two contractors have been ordered to pay a total of almost £2M after a worker was killed by a vehicle during roadworks.

Kier Integrated Services Ltd was the principal contractor for the roadworks and Sean Hegarty Ltd was the sub-contractor on the B1063 north of Lidgate, Suffolk during work to repair the surface of the road, under a contract between Kier Integrated Services and Suffolk County Council.

On 13 May 2014, workers from Sean Hegarty were using a road planer to remove the old tar from the southbound side of the road, while the northbound side had traffic lights to control the direction of the traffic, Ipswich Magistrates’ Court was told.

During this work the driver of the company’s flatbed lorry saw a roadworks colleague lying in the road to the offside rear of his vehicle, which had been reversing behind the road planer’s conveyor belt to collect the debris the planer scraped from the surface.

Aiden Gallagher was taken to hospital, but died of his extensive injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Kier Integrated Services and Sean Hegarty after an investigation found the companies failed to ensure that the operation of the road planer was carried out in a way to ensure vehicles and pedestrians could move safely around the roadworks.

HSE Inspector David King said after the hearing: “The planning of roadworks needs to start by considering the design, and how road workers and members of the public will be protected from moving vehicles, this could mean road closures, reducing speed limits or other measures. Whatever the controls in place, those in the area need to have sufficient space, barriers and controls to ensure the risks to them are minimised.

“In this instance the only control measures in place were cones along the centre of the road, and traffic was allowed to pass at 60mph, close to the workers who were not provided with a safety zone given the lack of space. Had adequate controls and a safe system of work been in place this terrible incident could have been prevented.”

Kier Integrated Services of Tempsford Hall, Sandy, Bedfordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £1.8M and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs, and a victim surcharge of £120.

Sean Hegarty Ltd of 85 High Road West, Felixstowe, Suffolk pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs, and a victim surcharge of £120. 

A Kier spokesman said: “We acknowledge and accept the sentencing decision of the court and wish to convey our sincerest sympathies to the family, friends and colleagues of Aiden Gallagher.

“Operating a safe and sustainable business is Kier’s number one priority and we regret that on this occasion our high standards were not met. We work collaboratively with our supply chain to strive for continual improvement in safety standards and to develop new approaches to safe working.”

New Civil Engineer has contacted Sean Hegarty Ltd for comment.

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