Kier handed £1.8m fine for road worker death

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Kier has been handed a huge fine of £1.8m following a Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the death of a road worker in Suffolk

Subcontractor Sean Hegarty was also fined £75,000 for its role in the accident.

Ipswich Magistrates’ Court heard that Kier Integrated Services was the principal contractor for road surface repairs on the B1063 north of Lidgate, under a contract with Suffolk County Council.

On 13 May 2014, workers from subcontractor Sean Hegarty were using a road planer to remove the old tar from the southbound side of the road, while the northbound side had traffic lights to control the direction of the traffic.

During this operation, the driver of the company’s flatbed lorry observed a roadworks colleague lying in the road to the offside rear of his vehicle, which had been reversing slowing behind the road planer’s conveyor belt to collect the debris the planer scraped from the road’s surface.

The man was taken to hospital, but died of his extensive injuries.

The HSE prosecuted Kier Integrated Services and Sean Hegarty after an investigation found the companies failed to ensure that the operation of the road planer was carried out in such a manner to ensure vehicles and pedestrians could move safely around the roadworks without exposing persons to risks to their health and safety.

Kier Integrated Services pled guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £1.8m and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs plus a victim surcharge of £120.

Sean Hegarty also pled guilty to breaching Section 2(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs, plus a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David King said: “The planning of roadworks needs to start by considering the design, and how road workers and members of the public will be protected from moving vehicles, this could mean road closures, reducing speed limits or other measures.

“Whatever the controls in place, those in the area need to have sufficient space, barriers and controls to ensure the risks to them are minimised.

“In this instance the only control measures in place were cones along the centre of the road, and traffic was allowed to pass at 60mph, close to the workers who were not provided with a safety zone given the lack of space. Had adequate controls and a safe system of work been in place this terrible incident could have been prevented.”

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