£2m fine for three contractors after a worker suffers serious leg injuries

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Three contractors have been handed fines totalling more than £2m after a worker sustained serious leg injuries following health and safety failings

More than £2m worth of fines have been levelled at three contractors following significant injuries to a worker.

The case, which was brought before Lincoln Crown Court, revealed the worker’s leg was broken in six places during an incident onsite in Lincolnshire in March 2012.

Vincent Talbot, 47, was hurt after a trench collapsed. He was trapped for 15 minutes before fire and rescue services were able to free him. The incident left Talbot with permanent damage in his right ankle, which now points 10 degrees off line.

A subsequent investigation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed there had not been sufficient measures put in place to protect those working in the trench.

Three contractors fined for safety failings

Kier MG Ltd was appointed as the principal contractor on the job to install new storm drains on behalf of Lincolnshire County Council. Kier MG Ltd then subcontracted the work to John Henry & Sons (Civil Engineers) Ltd, who subcontracted it to Lawless Civils Ltd, where Talbot was a self-employed contractor.

Faults were found with Lawless Civils, who appointed a supervisor who did not have the training and qualifications necessary. Furthermore, Lawless did not have the experience to carry out specialist excavation work.

Kier MG Ltd (formerly known as May Gurney Ltd) pleaded guilty to breaching the CDM regulations. The firm was fined £1.5m and ordered to pay £23,327.83 costs.

John Henry & Sons (Civil Engineers) Ltd denied the charge but was found guilty of a safety breach. They were fined £550,000 and ordered to pay £166,217.86.

Lawless Civils Ltd pleaded guilty to safety breaches. The firm was fined £40,500 and ordered to pay costs of £53,346.59.

Safety improvements made

John Edwards, Kier Group Safety, Health, Environment and Assurance Director said: “This incident happened in 2012 and before Kier acquired May Gurney in 2013.

“Since the acquisition, the safety performance of May Gurney has improved significantly, with the Accident Incidence Rate reducing from 736 to 226.

“Operating a safe and sustainable business is Kier’s number one priority. We have developed an industry-leading reputation for our rigorous approach to managing safety issues and for developing new approaches to safe working.

“We maintain our focus on the continuous improvement of safety standards.”

HSE inspector Martin Waring said: “This incident was foreseeable and avoidable and Mr Talbot’s injuries were the result of multiple failings by the duty holders, from the planning stage through to the execution of the project, resulting in the inevitable collapse of an unsupported trench.

“Sufficient trench support systems were not provided.

“Even while the excavation phase had begun, a catalogue of errors and omissions led to the injuries of Vincent Talbot.

“It is inevitable that at some time an unsupported trench will collapse, for this reason safe systems of work, should be in place in order to protect persons who work in trenches. We could easily have been dealing with a fatal incident.”

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