An employee suffered serious internal injuries while working in an excavation at Ghyllgrove Junior & Infants School in Basildon, Essex, when the handbrake of a parked dumptruck failed and the truck rolled into the excavation.
Southend Magistrates’ Court heard on 10 May how the site dumper was parked on a heap of excavated soil adjacent to a partially backfilled trench. The dumper had been left unattended with the engine running when the failure of its handbrake caused it to roll forward into the trench and pin a man against a pile of stacked concrete blocks. He suffered six broken ribs, a collapsed lung, multiple arm fractures and a broken nose. It happened on 24 February lat year.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to inspect and maintain the handbrake of the dumper regularly to ensure it remained effective, the soil heap had been placed too far back from the excavation, preventing it from acting as a safety barrier and there were no wheel stop blocks or chocks available to put under the tyres of parked vehicles. The investigation also found the company failed to ensure this work was appropriately supervised and effectively monitored by management.
S & K Groundwork Solutions Ltd, of Maypole Road, Maldon, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 5(1) of the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and Section 22(2) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015. As well as being fined £23,000 it was ordered to pay costs of £5,220.65.
Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Glyn Davies said: “This case highlights the importance of regularly inspecting and maintaining construction vehicles, including site dumpers, to ensure they do not deteriorate to the extent that they put people’s safety at risk.
“In this case, the employee’s life-threatening injuries could have been avoided if the company’s management had regularly and effectively monitored and audited its safety management systems. Use of suitable stop blocks near the edge of the trench excavation, or use of wheel chocks, is one such method that may have prevented this incident, which could easily have been fatal.”