Fine in excess of £1/2m imposed after telehandler toppled

Costain Limited has been ordered to pay more than £615,000 in fines and costs after a workman died when a telehandler overturned during the construction of the Parkway development in Newbury, Berks.

Mark Williams, aged 41, was using the vehicle to lift a pallet of tiles to a fourth story roof when the incident happened on 20 July 2011. He tried to flee the telehandler as it began to topple, but he was unable to move away in time and it landed on top of him, causing fatal crush injuries.

HSE found that safety of the vehicle was compromised by limited space and other obstructions in the area where he was required to work.

No option but to operate vehicle in unsafe manner

The married father-of-two, was part of a team responsible for tiling a number of roofs. He was operating the telehandler with the boom fully raised but not extended. Raising the boom reduced the overall length of the vehicle, however it ultimately caused it to overbalance as it was being turned and manoeuvred.

HSE inspectors established that Mr Williams had no option but to operate the vehicle in this way. The space between the buildings where he worked was almost the same length of the telehandler with the boom lowered, and meant he would have had no turning circle.

The court was told the vehicle was not suited for use in this area, and that had the space constraints been properly assessed and a better system of work put in place then Mr Williams death could have been avoided.

Costain had clear responsibilities

Costain Limited, of Costain House, Vanwall Business Park, Maidenhead, was fined a total of £525,000 and ordered to pay a further £90,577 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and two breaches of Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

hselogo1After sentencing HSE principal inspector Steve Hull commented:

“This was a tragic and entirely preventable death. Mark Williams was required to use a telehandler that was wholly unsuited to the confined area he worked in.

He had no option but to raise the boom so he could turn the vehicle, and in doing so he critically undermined the stability, resulting in the inevitable overturn.

He should have been provided with alternative, more appropriate equipment and a better system of work. Costain had clear responsibilities to ensure that happened, but they failed to properly assess the risks and ultimately failed Mr Williams.”

Mr Williams’ employer, Attley’s Roofing Limited, was earlier cleared of identical health and safety breaches at the end of the initial trial on 3 April. The company, of Spital Farm, Thorpe Mead, Banbury, was acquitted after being jointly prosecuted by HSE alongside Costain.

Shenda Long, Mark’s mother, said:

“I have always felt that I have lived a very privileged and happy life, but all that changed on 20 July 2011 when police officers knocked on our door and informed me that our beloved son had been killed. Mark was totally let down by the people he worked for and trusted.”

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