Groundworker crushed by drainage pipes

Grant Prior 9 months ago
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Two construction companies have been fined a total of £120,000 after a groundworker suffered horrific injuries when heavy drainage pipes fell on top of him.

The drainage pipes which fell on the victim
The drainage pipes which fell on the victim

Anthony Pennell was rushed to Royal Stoke University Hospital having sustained several fractures to both sides of his pelvis, as well as a fractured vertebrae and bleed on the spine, following the incident at a site in Fradley Park, Lichfield on 3 September 2019.

Pennell, who was 32 at the time, spent nine days in hospital before he was able to be discharged to his home in Cleethorpes.

HSE enforcement lawyer Nathan Cook, told Telford Magistrates’ Court how Pennell, an employee of R O Donnell Plant & Civil Ltd, sustained his injuries

The pipes ,each weighing around 160 kg, had been suspended on the forks of a telehandler while being moved to a different area of the site.

When it came to a stop, Pennell tried to re-position a dangling skid so that the pack could be lowered properly when the load fell on top of him.

Four years on, the 37-year-old has not been able to resume his job as a groundworker, and is instead only able to work as a landscaper, which pays him less.

“I continue to have pain in my right leg,” he said. “I am no longer as strong as I was and can no longer carry out heavy manual activities.

“I will always be at a disadvantage in the labour market, and cannot see how I could get a job again where I would earn the money that I was earning as a groundworker.”

An HSE investigation found that both Pennell’s employer and the principal contractor Readie Construction Ltd failed to ensure that the operation was properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a safe manner.

The investigation also identified issues in relation to the level of knowledge and experience of those involved in the lifting operations, and in the companies’ overall management and coordination of the telehandler usage between contractors.

R O Donnell Plant & Civil Ltd, of Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,784.

Readie Construction Ltd of Romford, Essex also pleaded guilty and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,784.

HSE inspector Will Gretton said: “This horrific incident could easily have been avoided had the work been properly planned and suitable control measures implemented to properly secure and safely transport the load.

“This case should remind all on construction sites and wider industry that all lifting operations must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner to ensure the health and safety of those involved or affected by the work.”

A Readie spokesperson said: “Readie Construction Ltd prides ourselves on our commitment to ensuring we protect the health and  safety of every person that enters our sites and premises and we regret the injury suffered by Mr Pennell.

“We do not in any way wish to diminish the injuries sustained by Mr Pennell but note and would reference District Judge Greggo’s comments in court ‘The incident was not a result of Readie Construction cutting corners and was clearly an isolated incident to be seen as an aberration and not the norm’.

“Readie Construction Ltd fully understands it’s moral and legal obligations to its workforce and will ensure that the protection of everyone’s health and safety is given absolute importance on every one of our construction sites every day.”

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