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Contractors admit guilt on Avonmouth gantry deaths


CONTRACTORS COSTAIN and Yarm Road (formerly Kvaerner Cleveland Bridge) said last week that they would plead guilty to endangering workers strengthening the M5 Avonmouth Bridge following a fatal gantry collapse in 1999.

Four Avonmouth Bridge steelworkers died when the underslung gantry from which they were working collapsed, spilling them to the ground on 8 September (NCE 16 September 1999).

The Health & Safety Executive is prosecuting the two contractors for breaches of the 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act At a plea and directions hearing at Bristol Crown Court last Friday, defence barristers representing both entered guilty pleas to charges that they had breached section 3(i) of the Act.

They are being charged with failing to ensure the health and safety of workers employed by other companies. Yarm Road is also to plead guilty to a second charge of failing to protect from harm its own employees, so breaching Section 2(i) of the Act.

Costain said it would plead guilty to charges that it breached Section 3(i) of the Act by exposing to danger employees of subcontractor Kvaerner Cleveland Bridge. KCB is in turn pleading guilty to charges of endangering a Motherwell Bridge employee.

Costain was main contractor on the £125M bridge strengthening project for the Highways Agency. The case has been adjourned until the autumn.

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