Worker crushed to death: company fined £450,000

A company has been fined £450,000 and its director handed a suspended prison sentence after a labourer was crushed to death at a construction site in Hockley, Birmingham.

Site foreman Vasyl Bychkov, 45, was also sentenced to 130 hours of unpaid work after previously pleading guilty to failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of others at the site.

On 8 May 2019, 49-year-old Oleksander “Sasha” Rudyy had been removing supporting metal bars with an angle grinder as part of a large-scale renovation project involving three bordering sites when the structure collapsed.

He had not been aware the metal bars played a crucial role in supporting the structure.

‘Woeful’ standard of care

An investigation by West Midlands Police and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company, Stonehurst Estates Ltd, had worked on the sensitive structure without a proper plan and sequence in place, despite safety measures being known and readily available to the company.

None of the men working on the building, including Bychkov, who was onsite at the time, had any expertise in demolition work, and there was no risk assessment or safe system of work in place for the task Rudyy was undertaking.

The standard of care granted to Rudyy by the company was described as “woeful” by an HSE expert.

Stonehurst Estates Ltd was fined £450,000 after pleading guilty on 17 January to corporate manslaughter and a health and safety offence. The firm was also ordered to pay costs of £167,601.

Rosemary Ainslie, head of the Crown Prosecution Service’s special crime division, said: “Although he was not on site when this tragedy took place, as director of Stonehurst Estates, Simon Briggs owed a duty of care to Mr Rudyy for any work carried out.

“As site manager on the day in question, Vasyl Bychkov, who had no expertise in demolition, asked Mr Rudyy to undertake a task that, lacking sufficient expertise, was inherently dangerous. He failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of labourers working at the site.”

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