Contractor fined £146k following fatal crush at Derbyshire building site

The scene at Monks Pond near Ashbourne

A Midlands construction firm has been fined £146,000 after a joiner was crushed to death on a building site near Ashbourne.

Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd had hired Philip McDonald to work on the construction of a concrete overflow weir structure at Monks Pond near the Derbyshire market town.

The 48-year-old was with colleagues on a road above the site waiting for an excavator to remove sand from trench boxes when 20-tonne vehicle rotated clockwise and crushed him.

Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard that Birch Brothers – which has since gone into liquidation – had hired in steel fixers and joiners to undertake the work before the tragic incident on 5 September 2017.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been adequately planned, and that no instruction had been given to the digger operator or to pedestrians working in the area.

The risks associated with the work had not been adequately assessed and there was no segregation of pedestrians and plant in the part of the site in question.

Moreover, Birch Brothers failed to appoint a banksman to ensure the safety of pedestrians while the vehicle was in operation, and there was also nobody to oversee this element of the work to ensure it was carried out safely.

The Stourport-on-Severn-based firm pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £146,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,621.90.

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.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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