Home>Handling & Storing>General Handling>Employee attaching safety signs crushed to death
Home>Plant & Machinery>General Plant & Machinery>Employee attaching safety signs crushed to death

Employee attaching safety signs crushed to death

09 April 2024

A COMPANY in Hertfordshire has been fined after an employee was crushed to death.

James Rourke lost his life after being struck and run over by an excavator at Sarazen Gardens, Brampton on 18 November 2019.

The 22-year-old site engineer had been attaching ‘warning’ work signs to fencing around the site when he was hit by the vehicle.

James, from Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, had only joined his employer, Materials Movement Limited, months before after graduating from the University of Birmingham with a degree in geology in the summer of 2019.

The firm had been hired to undertake ground clearance works at Sarazens Gardens in preparation for the building of new houses.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Materials Movement Limited had failed to plan and manage the work at Sarazen Gardens. The company failed to properly supervise the work that James and the excavator driver were undertaking to ensure it was safe. The Baldock firm also failed to ensure the work was planned and managed to eliminate any chance of James working near the excavator.

HSE guidance states employers must consider five main precautions needed to control excavator hazards, these are; exclusion, clearance, visibility, plant and vehicle marshaller and bucket attachment. Further guidance on mobile plant and vehicles can be found at: Construction – Mobile plant and vehicle industry health & safety (hse.gov.uk)

Materials Movement Limited, of Royston Road, Baldock, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £133,330 and ordered to pay £8,500 in costs at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on 22 March 2024.

HSE inspector Martin Paren said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man. This death could have easily been prevented if his employer had properly planned, instructed, and supervised the work.

“Our thoughts today are with the family of James, who should have been protected from such harm at work – because of the failings of Materials Movement Ltd he was not.”

This prosecution was brought by HSE enforcement lawyer Jon Mack and supported by HSE paralegal officer David Shore.