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Erith Plant Services fined £175,000 after worker crushed to death

The incident took place at Erith Plant Services’ workshop at Eastern Quarry in Swanscombe, Kent
The incident took place at Erith Plant Services’ workshop at Eastern Quarry in Swanscombe, Kent

Employee crushed by excavator grab attachment which fell while being loaded on to a lorry

KENT-based Erith Plant Services Ltd have been fined £175,000 following the death of an employee. Liam McArdle was fatally crushed by an excavator attachment while working for the company on 21 September 2021.

A demolition grab, attached to an excavator, fell on to the 24-year-old while it was being loaded on to a lorry at Erith Plant Services’ workshop at Eastern Quarry, in Swanscombe.


A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found that Erith Plant Services failed to ensure there was a safe method of work while loading and unloading excavators and attachments.

The company also failed to ensure steps were taken to ensure HGV drivers fully engaged the quick-hitch when moving attachments during loading and unloading activities.

Moreover, there was no defined segregation between vehicles and pedestrians at the Eastern Quarry workshop, nor was there suitable supervision of work activities.

HSE guidance states that the plan for any lifting operation must address the foreseeable risks involved in the work and identify the appropriate resources, including people, necessary for the safe completion of the job. 

Erith Plant Services, who pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, were fined £175,000 and ordered to pay £37,804 in costs at Woolwich Crown Court on 27 March 2024.

HSE inspector Joanne Williams said: ‘This tragic death serves as an important reminder that workers need to be trained and that there is always the potential for an attachment to fall during the operation of excavators. Employers need to ensure that work practices are maintained to keep workers away from the danger areas during lifting activities.’


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