£146,000 fine after worker crushed to death

worker crushed to death

Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) has been fined £146,000 after a joiner was crushed to death by a 20-tonne excavator.

On 5 September 2017, Philip McDonald, 48, was assisting with the construction of a concrete overflow weir structure at Monks Pond, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

McDonald was waiting with colleagues on a road above the work area for the excavator to remove sand from trench boxes. It rotated clockwise and crushed him.

Birch Brothers as a principal contractor had hired in steel fixers and joiners.

Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd of Barracks Road, Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, Stourport-on-Severn, pleaded guilty at Kidderminster Magistrates Court.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations. As well as a £146,000 fine, it was ordered to pay costs of £4,621.90

In September 2022, the business appointed liquidators.

‘Easily preventable’ incident

HSE Inspector Katherine Cotton said: “This was a tragic incident that was easily preventable.  Those in control of work have a responsibility to organise their sites and devise safe methods of working, in relation to vehicles and pedestrians, and ensure they are implemented.

“Construction site vehicle incidents can and should be prevented by the effective management of transport operations throughout the construction process."

The HSE investigation found that the work had not been adequately planned. No instruction had been given to the digger operator or pedestrians working in the area.

Risks associated with the work had not been adequately assessed, and there was no segregation of pedestrians and plant.

The company had not appointed a banksman to ensure the safety of pedestrians while the vehicle was in operation. There was also no one overseeing the work to ensure safety.

A Prohibition Notice was served after the incident stopping further work involving mobile plant or vehicles until the site had addressed these safety issues.

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