Piling contractor given £16k fine for safety failings

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A contractor has been fined for operating a piling rig without a safety guard around the rotating auger…

A case was brought against Southern Piling Limited after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported failings.

Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court was told HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe inspected a site in Maidstone, Kent, in December 2014. During this visit, Stancliffe reported seeing the piling rig in operation without a safety guard.

This incident was not the first time safety issues had been flagged by the HSE. During previous visits to three sites where Southern Piling Limited had been carrying out work, concerns had also been raised about guarding standards. After the latest site visit, the HSE was informed the guard had not been used on the machine at all during the two-and-a-half weeks it had been in operation.

The firm, which is based in East Sussex, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1)(a) of PUWER 1998 and Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. It received a fine of £16,000 and was ordered to pay costs of nearly £5,000.

Speaking after the hearing, Stancliffe said: “There was simply no excuse for the way the machine was being used.

“It was in the middle of the site and there was nothing to prevent the guard from being fitted.

“I dread to think, even at low speed, what might have happened had someone inadvertently fallen on to the unguarded auger.

“This is incredibly powerful machinery, capable of causing life-changing or even fatal injuries.

“There has been industry guidance link to external website and HSE guidance on the guarding of piling and drilling machines for some time.”

Visit the HSE site for details of machine safety.

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