Construction worker injured as sheet pile fell from mechanical excavator


Britcon (UK) Ltd have been fined £570,000 for safety breaches after an employee was struck by a falling load from a mechanical excavator

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that Britcon (UK) Ltd was appointed as a contractor to construct a surge pit as part of a renewal and refurbishment project at the McCain’s Foods (GB) Limited site at Havers Hill in Scarborough. Part of the process involved removing sheet piles from the ground.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that on 21 March 2018, 66-year-old Stephen Gouldthorpe was assisting with cleaning sheet piles as they were removed from the surge pit by a Doosan DX 225 LC3, 360-degree excavator.

The excavator had an attachment known as an EMV 300 pile attachment fitted to remove the sheet piles from the ground. The mechanical excavator was removing a seven-metre sheet pile weighing approximately 190 kg to a lay down area when a safety chain slipped causing the pile to fall and strike Stephen.

Stephen suffered a fractured left tibia and fibula and ankle, a fractured right clavicle, seven fractured ribs, pulmonary contusion and fractured vertebrae.

Britcon (UK) Ltd of Midland Road, Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, DN16 1DQ pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company has been fined £570,000 and ordered to pay £40,054.68 in costs.

Correcting safe working practices were not carried out

HSE inspector Paul Thompson said: “There was insufficient supervision and communication during the lifting operations. There was no specific exclusion zone in place and workers had to approach the sheet pile to clean it.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out the correct control measures and safe working practices.”

Britcon response

A spokesperson for Britcon said: “We acknowledge and accept the decision of the court and offer our sincere apologies for the injured individual. Operating a safe working environment is a number one priority for Britcon and we regret that on this occasion, our high safety standards were not met.

“Since this incident, the managing director and senior management structure at Britcon has completely changed and we have invested significantly in our focus on health and safety practices within the business.

“Britcon has since achieved gold awards from RoSPA for the last 2 years, the BSC merit safety award and joined the Working Well Together Committee for Yorkshire and Humberside regions.  Britcon also maintains ISO 9001, ISO 45001 and ISO 14001 accreditations.”


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