Construction companies fined after man suffered severe injuries

The drainage pipes that fell on top of Mr Pennell

Two construction companies were fined a total of £120,000 as a result of an incident in which a groundworker, Anthony Pennell, suffered severe injuries when a heavy drainage pipe collapsed on him.

On September 3, 2019 the incident occurred at a construction site in Fradley Park, Lichfield.

Pennell, who was 32 years old at the time, suffered multiple fractures to his pelvis, a fractured vertebra, and a spinal bleed. He spent nine days in the hospital before going home to Cleethorpes.

Four years on, the 37-year-old remains unable to return to his previous occupation as a groundworker.

Nathan Cook, an enforcement lawyer from HSE, explained to Telford Magistrates’ Court how Pennell, an employee of R O Donnell Plant & Civil, sustained his injuries.

The incident occurred while moving heavy pipes, each weighing approximately 160kg, which were suspended on the forks of a telehandler to be relocated within the construction site.

Recently following an investigation by HSE, it was discovered that both Pennell’s employer and the primary contractor, Readie Construction, failed to ensure that the operation was adequately planned, properly supervised, and executed safely.

The investigation also revealed deficiencies in the knowledge and experience of those involved in the lifting operations, as well as in the overall management and coordination of telehandler usage among the contractors.

R O Donnell Plant & Civil, located in New Road, Worlaby, Brigg, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to violating regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. They were fined £80,000 and ordered to cover costs of £3,784.

Readie Construction, based in Falcon Business Centre, Ashton Road, Romford, Essex, also admitted breaching regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. They received a fine of £40,000 and were directed to pay costs of £3,784.

HSE inspector Will Gretton said: “This horrific incident could easily have been avoided had the work been properly planned and suitable control measures implemented to properly secure and safely transport the load.

“This case should remind all on construction sites and wider industry that all lifting operations must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner to ensure the health and safety of those involved or affected by the work.”