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Construction company fined after worker crushed by reversing excavator

10 July 2014

A Worcestershire construction company has been fined for neglecting safety after a 27-year-old worker sustained life-changing injuries when he was struck by a reversing excavator.

Thomas Plumb, from Evesham, was run over by the vehicle as it reversed on a site in Gretton, near Cheltenham, on 10 May 2013, leaving his right leg was shattered.
He was in a coma for ten days and in hospital for seven weeks. He has since undergone extensive surgery, including bone and skin grafts and now has metal rods and screws in his leg, knee and ankle.
The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which on Monday (7 July) prosecuted his employer, SD Launchbury Ltd, of Evesham, at Cheltenham Magistrates’ Court.
HSE discovered SD Launchbury Ltd had not carried out a proper assessment of the risks on site and so had failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place, including the use of a trained banksman. There was also no segregation or barriers between dangerous moving plant and pedestrians.
The court heard how the excavator did not have adequate rear view mirrors or other visual aids, and its warning beacon was not working. In addition, the operator’s direct field of vision was obscured by the counterbalance on the vehicle.
The investigation also found workers had not been provided with information or instructions about working around excavators or given high-vis personal protective equipment. SD Launchbury Ltd also failed to ensure that work on the site was properly supervised.
SD Launchbury Ltd, registered at High Street, Evesham, Worcestershire, and with its HQ in Murcot, Oxfordshire was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £913 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Kate Leftly said: "Thomas Plumb suffered life-changing injuries, which could have been avoided if SD Launchbury had properly assessed the risk posed by the excavator and appropriate controls, including segregation of vehicles and pedestrians and the provision of adequate visibility aids, had been put in place.

"Each year, around ten people in the construction industry die as a result of being struck by moving plant. In addition, there are hundreds of preventable incidents and injuries.” Information on construction site safety is available on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/construction