Category Archives: Accidents in Construction Sites

Contractor Sustains Head Injury at National Grid Construction Site

A 24 year old contractor was ‘crushed by machinery’ at the National Grid construction site in Eade Road, near Harringay, north London this morning and has sustained head and shoulder injuries as a result. He was subsequently rushed to hospital ‘as a priority’ from the site, where National Grid, as part of a London Power Tunnels project, are tunnelling towards St John’s Wood. Apparently the man was crushed by machinery as he embarked in a tunnelling operation; however a National Grid spokesman stressed that this was not the case and that the tunnel is structurally sound.

The spokesman would not explain how or why the contractor was injured, in spite of the fact that another employee reported that he was told that another workman had been crushed and had to have medical treatment administered while in the tunnel. The National Grid spokesman stated –

‘An incident took place at the Eade Road construction site in Harringay at approximately 6am today. A contractor working at the site sustained non-life threatening injuries and received medical treatment. Our thoughts are with the contractor and we hope he has a prompt recovery. Health and safety is of paramount importance to us.’

The spokesman went on to say that work had been halted temporarily at the site while the incident is being investigated and that there “is no problem with the tunnel structure, it was an accident. The structure of the tunnel is sound.’

After the incident, tunnel workers were swiftly evacuated from the site. Fire-fighters, police and paramedics were alerted about the accident and arrived shortly after.

A spokesman for London Ambulance said –

‘We were called at 6.05am to reports of an incident at Eade Road, N4 We sent two ambulance crews, a single responder in a car, two duty managers and a London Air Ambulance crew by car, as they do not fly at night. Staff treated a 24-year-old man for head and shoulder injuries. The patient was taken as a priority to the major trauma centre at Royal London Hospital.’

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have been alerted about the accident are conducting an investigation.

Construction Firm Fined for Unsafe Asbestos Rmoval

AA Construction, a construction firm that performed unsafe demolition work and littered the site with smashed up asbestos materials in February 2011 was ordered to pay fines of more than £45,000 by Westminster Magistrates on October 24. The company was in charge of work that was being carried out near Wimbledon Chase station when the health and safety rules were breached.

Residents informed the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) about their concerns that asbestos material was being discarded on the road and footpath. Furthermore, it was thought that the site which was situated not far from a school was hazardous. The HSE prosecuted the firm for their failure to adequately plan their work and survey for asbestos which, as a consequence, compromised the health and safety of its employees and the general public. Furthermore, the HSE found that the workers hired by the company were inexperienced and lacked sufficient training in areas such as asbestos removal.

The company was fined £36,000, a £15 surcharge in addition to £9,159 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

HSE Inspector, Helen Donnelly, stated –

“Members of the public rightly raised concerns about the unsafe working practices they witnessed at Quintin Avenue, and I applaud them for doing so.

“AA Construction (London) Ltd took a reckless approach to demolition, which could have resulted in a serious incident.

“Construction projects need to properly planned and safely managed by competent personnel using the right procedures and equipment.

“That clearly didn’t happen here, and I hope lessons have been learned.”

Merseyside Firm Prosecuted after Worker Suffers Brain Injury

CME Ceilings, a Merseyside firm, has been ordered to pay fines of £5,000 in addition to £5,000 costs following an incident where a 43-year-old worker suffered a brain injury on January 18 last year. The man, who is from West Derby, fell from scaffolding at Croxteth Sports and Wellbeing centre and subsequently sustained a brain haemorrhage, a fractured skull, a collapsed lung and broken bones.

The company was prosecuted and fined following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which discovered that the scaffolding tower had been unsafe. After the accident the worker was in intensive care for two weeks. The brain injury he suffered has had a long-term impact on his personality. He has been unable to return to work as a consequence of his injuries.

The accident occurred when the company was carrying out a job that involved installing a suspended ceiling at the Croxteth Sports and Wellbeing centre. Originally a scissor lift was going to be utilised in order to reach the ceiling, however they did not properly arrange for the scissor lift to be delivered to the site, so a scaffolding tower was used instead. The use of the scaffolding tower was made hazardous due to the fact the brakes of the wheels had not been applied in addition to the fact that no edge protection had been positioned around the work platform to stop workers from falling.

When the tower suddenly started to move across the room while the man was working he fell two meters to the ground below. The HSE also discovered that scaffolding tower consisted of parts from numerous manufacturers and that these parts were in poor condition. The company admitted guilt to violating the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Mark Baker , a HSE inspector had this to say about the incident –

“One of CME Ceilings’ employees has suffered severe physical and mental injuries that will affect him for the rest of his life.

“The scaffolding tower the company provided simply wasn’t up to the job and his life was put in danger the minute he started to climb it.

“This case should act as a warning to firms not to cut corners and to make sure they use the right equipment for the job they’re doing.”

Dump Truck Driver Injured at Plymouth School

A builder who works for construction firm, Interserve, was left with suspected broken bone injuries following an incident where his dump truck fell down an embankment at a primary school on September 5th. The man’s colleagues said they heard him “cry out” when he was in the middle of performing repair work at Riverside Primary school in Barne Barton.

PC Gareth Hammett spoke at the scene –

“The man’s dumper tumbled down an embankment and onto its side.”

An Interserve spokesperson said it was unclear what exactly had occurred. The spokesperson went onto say that Interseve and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) would conduct an investigation.

The headteacher at Riverside, Brian Jones, said that they were expanding the school by building six new classrooms. He went onto say that an ambulance was immediately called when the man suffered his fall and three staff members administered first aid to him before it arrived. He then stated –

“We hope he is fit and well and able to return to the site as soon as possible.”

The HSE has since confirmed that an investigation will indeed by carried out on the incident along with Interserve.

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said yesterday: “The industrial accident victim suffered potentially life changing injuries.”

IFZW Maintenance Ltd Fined for Unsafe Work Practices

In August of last year, IFZW Maintenance Ltd was was discovered to be implementing unsafe work practices at a height at a crematorium in Swansea. The maintenance company had been contracted to install fans in Morriston Crematorium in conjunction with a new mercury-abatement system. Anne Marie Orrells, a Health Safety Executive (HSE) inspector, visited the site unannounced visit and witnessed two of the company’s workers working on the roof without the aid of any manner of edge protection.

Furthermore, in order to access the roof they were using an unsecured ladder, which was leaning against a wall that members of the public had easy access to. The company was ordered to halt work until the safety concerns were address by a Prohibition Notice served by the HSE.

Inspector Orrells said that their work method had not been planned adequately, saying –

“It was entirely foreseeable that people could fall when accessing and working on the crematorium roof. The installation of the fans was seen as short-duration work and was done in the absence of safety measures. The decision to work in this manner is indicative of poor planning and management for work at height.”

IFZW Maintenance had made themselves known to the HSE before. Nine weeks previously, at a site in Sheffield, the HSE had issued a Prohibition Notice to the company for work that was being done out atop cremator equipment without the aid of fall protection.

On 27 June IFZW Maintenance pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was subsequently ordered to pay fines of £11,500 and £3208 in costs.

To conclude, Inspector Orrells said –

“A fall from the roof could have proved fatal and posed a clear risk to members of the public attending funeral services. The dangers of working at height are well known and the standards are well established within industry and legislation.”

Derbyshire Contractors Fined £400,000 after Crane Operator Left Paralysed

An incident where a crane collapsed on June 6, 2009 that left 55 year old Iain Gillham paralysed and caused much destruction at a Liverpool city centre apartment block has been ruled as being a preventable incident. The two construction firms involved in the accident had previously made disastrous errors that led to a 200ft crane falling through the Chandlers Wharf apartments which culminated in millions of pounds of destruction

The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) have stated that it was  extremely lucky that many people were not killed. Derbyshire based contractors, Bowmer and Kirkland, were ordered to pay fines of £280,000 and in addition to almost £200,000 in costs by Liverpool Crown Court after being found guilty of violating safety laws which served to endanger both the lives of both workers and residents. Bingham Davis, a Liverpool structural engineering company, would have been ordered to pay £400,000 fines, however they will only be liable to pay £1,000 as the company is in liquidation and possesses no assets.

It was found that a redesign of the crane’s foundations was flawed and this caused it to be hazardously unstable. When it toppled over it flung Mr Gillham from the crane’s cab and crashed into the flats beside the building site where seven apartment blocks and a new eight-storey hotel were being built. Nobody who had been inside the building was injured, however residents were subsequently evacuated

The crane lost stability after the firms decided that it would be a good idea to cut off steel bars that were essential from four concrete foundation piles in order to sit the crane’s feet on top on them. The steel bars were replaced with four steel rods in each concrete foundation pile which served to reduce how much force the foundation could endure. All of this subsequently led to the crane collapsing.

Mr Gillham is now paralysed for life. He suffered substantial injuries, such as a fractured skull, 13 fractures in his chest and spine, a brain haemorrhage in addition to a collapsed lung and serious crush injuries. He will never be able to walk again. The judge stated that Mr Gillham was “entirely free” from blame.

Following the hearing, Warren Pennington, a HSE inspector, stated –

“Whilst it is bad enough that Iain Gillham will be unable to walk for the rest of his life as a result of the failings of both parties it is no exaggeration to say it was only by pure chance that this catastrophic event did not result in multiple fatalities.”

Harrow Construction Firm Fined after Worker Disabled after Fall

R&G Construction, a construction firm in Harrow, has been ordered to pay fines of £30,000 in addition to full costs of £7,515 by Westminster Magistrates Court after one of its workers, a 28-year old man, fell seven metres from an unguarded roof and sustained injuries that will impact his life forever. R&G Construction  were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation which discovered that scaffolding that had protected other workers who had been carrying out work had been removed the month before.

Vasile Ionel Vatca from Romania had been working on a major refurbishment project where the construction of a basement and a roof replacement was necessary. On the day that the accident occurred Vatca was working on the roof. The only way to get down off the roof was by utilising a ladder which only went to the lower portion of the roof. As he climbed down, the ladder dropped from the building. Vatca then fell about seven metres to the ground and sustained a broken leg, heel and wrist. The severity of his injuries means that Vatca is now permanently disabled.

Andrew Verrall-Withers, a HSE inspector, called the accident appalling and entirely avoidable. He then stated –

“Companies have a duty to take steps to reduce risks and prevent falls using equipment such as guardrails and working platforms, or even nets and airbags if needs be.

“If the firm had properly planned and organised the work and sufficiently assessed the risks of working at height, along with the use of appropriate work equipment – the likelihood of this happening would have been much reduced.”

Construction Company Fined £12,000 after Worker Falls from balcony

Preseli Construction & Maintenance Ltd, a construction company from Pembroke Dock, has been ordered to pay fines by Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court after a 31-year-old worker fell from a balcony and suffered severe injuries. The accident occurred on a construction site in a large house in Saundersfoot. The worker, Karl Kraus, had to stay in hospital for 6 days as a result. The fall occurred when Mr Kraus removed a concrete block that had been put in front of a doorway. When he moved the block, Mr Kraus fell backwards from the seven metre high balcony.

The Health and Safety Executive carried out an investigation and discovered that the company had had not implemented sufficient scaffolding nor had they an adequate system of accident prevention. Mr Kraus needed immediate surgery to pin a bone back in his heel. He had to wear a plaster cats for 10 months; he still cannot walk.

Preseli Construction & Maintenance Ltd was ordered to pay fines of £12,000 in addition to costs of £2,376.25, whilst its director, Mr Christopher Newell was £4,000 and costs of £2,376.25. He is also not permitted to carry out work as the company director for 2 years.

Following the hearing, Anne-Marie Orrells, a HSE inspector stated –

“Falls from height are the single biggest cause of fatalities in the construction industry. If work is carried out at height then all appropriate measures should be put in place to reduce the risk of falling. Mr Kraus is still a young man whose life has been turned upside down after receiving significant long-term injuries in this incident”

Lighting Company Fined for Health and Safety Breaches

Academy Signs Ltd, a lighting company in Lincoln, has been fined and prosecuted for not implementing adequate health and safety measures. The company pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005 for work that was carried out in The Ritz pub on July 8, 2010.

The company had failed to carry out adequate risk assessment checks, had taken inadequate measures in the case of an employee suffering a fall and had not assessed the risk of those who were not employed by the company. Academy Signs Ltd. Has been ordered to pay over £13,000 in fines and costs by Lincoln Magistrates Court and the City of Lincoln Council.

Paul Rohowsky, the Health and Safety Inspector at the City Council, said:

“The City of Lincoln Council has an enforcement responsibility for many businesses operating within the city and we will always investigate employers who demonstrate a blatant disregard for health and safety.

“The reckless manner in which Academy Signs Ltd went about replacing lighting tubes to JD Wetherspoon The Ritz on High Street put both their employees and members of the public walking on the footpath at risk of serious injury.

“The fine imposed by Lincoln Magistrates Court confirms that working at a height without any safety measures is unacceptable.”