Falling 1.4t steel beam kills site cleaner

Aaron Morby 10 years ago

Two construction firms have been fined a total of £65,000 after a man was killed when a steel beam weighing more than a tonne fell on him while it was being unloaded from a lorry.

French national Hugues Makambila, 35 was working as a cleaner on the Brentford construction site in West London.

On the morning of 5 June 2008, a lorry load of steel beams arrived on site and parked adjacent to a pedestrian walkway in an area not designated for unloading.

An HSE investigation found that a company director of Northern Ireland-based steelwork erector CM Structural Services had noticed a steel beam was hanging over the right side of the lorry, but no measures were taken to restrain the load or to prevent the beam from falling.

CM Structural Services began unloading the steel using a forklift truck but it did not put any measures into place to prevent people walking down the pavement nor did it put up any signs warning people that unloading was taking place.

During unloading, a steel beam weighing 1.4 tonnes fell from the lorry onto the pedestrian walkway and onto Makambila, from Bordeaux, who was on the pedestrian walkway of the site. He died instantly.

Fisher Engineering, which was was responsible for the manufacture, delivery and installation of the structural steelwork, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,595.

CM Structural Services was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,692.

Both firms pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to health and safety breaches.

Speaking after sentencing hearing at the Old Bailey, Inspector Lisa Chappell said: “This tragic incident was easily preventable. The risks involved in the handling and delivery of steel stock are well known to those in the industry.

“Appropriate measures to control these hazards should have been in place, including ensuring there is effective communication between the duty holders responsible for planning and managing deliveries, inspecting deliveries upon arrival and providing a clearly defined exclusion zone where unloading can be carried out safely.

“These measures are neither costly nor time consuming, yet the failures of the companies involved in this incident contributed to the death of a respected worker whose family continues to grieve the loss of a son, brother and husband.”

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