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Firms fined following death of road worker

HSE prosecution

Principal contractor and road-building sub-contractor prosecuted after road worker killed

A PRINCIPAL contractor and a road-building sub-contractor have been fined £1.8 million and £75,000, respectively, after a worker was fatally struck while working on roadworks near Lidgate in Suffolk.

Ipswich Magistrates’ Court heard that Kier Integrated Services Ltd were acting as principal contractor and Sean Hegarty Ltd as sub-contractor on the B1063 north of Lidgate, 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 Ltd were using a road planer to remove the old surfacing from the southbound side of the road, while the northbound side had traffic lights to control the direction of the traffic.

During this operation, the driver of the company’s flat-bed lorry observed a roadworks colleague lying in the road to the offside rear of his vehicle, which had been reversing slowly behind the road planer’s conveyor belt to collect the debris scraped off the road’s surface.

The man was taken to hospital, but died of his extensive injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Kier Integrated Services Ltd and Sean Hegarty Ltd after an investigation found the companies had failed to ensure that the operation of the road planer was carried out in such a manner to ensure vehicles and pedestrians could move safely around the roadworks without exposing persons to risks to their health and safety.

Kier Integrated Services Ltd, who pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, were fined £1.8 million and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs (plus a victim surcharge of £120).

Sean Hegarty Ltd, who pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, were fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs (plus a victim surcharge of £120).

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David King said: ‘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 minimized.

‘In this instance the only control measures in place were cones along the centre of the road, and traffic was allowed to pass at 60 miles/h, 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.’

Guidance on managing roadworks is available in The Secretary of State for Transport ‘Safety at Street Works and Road Works’ Code of Practice, known in the industry as Chapter 8, or the Red Book.

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