Laing O’Rourke firms fined £3.8m after man is crushed by 11-tonne concrete panel

A UK court has fined two subsidiaries of international engineering enterprise Laing O’Rourke £3.8m for their role in the death of a 29-year-old father who was crushed by a falling concrete panel in 2014.

Subsidiaries Explore Manufacturing and Select Plant Hire pleaded guilty to health and safety charges following the horrific death of Richard Reddish, who was knocked out of his elevated basket by a toppling concrete panel that had not been properly secured.

(Tiina Mai Nummert/Dreamstime)

Other panels then fell and one landed on Reddish, killing him instantly.

"This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man, whose death could easily have been prevented if the companies had acted following previous warnings to identify and manage the risks involved, maintain the equipment, and put a safe system of work in place," said Stuart Pilkington, an inspector with the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, after the hearing at Nottingham Crown Court.

The court heard that on 8 July 2014, Reddish, who was employed by Explore Manufacturing in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, was working in the basket of a mobile elevating working platform (MEWP), removing the lifting attachments from the top of a concrete panel that weighed about 11 tonnes and was stored on a transport pallet.

The accident took place when the concrete panel toppled, striking the MEWP and throwing him from the basket.

The falling panel caused other panels to topple, one of which fell onto him.

The transport pallets were supplied by Select Plant Hire, who shared responsibility for their maintenance with Explore Manufacturing.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive confirmed that the frame used to secure the panel was not properly connected to the pallet, as a locking pin had not been correctly reinserted after the frame had previously been replaced, and there was no system of pre-use checks.

The pallets were in a poor condition with defects including missing support bearers and stabilising legs.

Other failures included the storage of large freestanding concrete panels in the finishing area, which should have been secured in storage racks, and a lack of sufficient planning.

The investigation also identified concerns with the wider systems for the storage of concrete panels at the site.

Explore Manufacturing Limited was fined £2m and ordered to pay costs of £13,922 while Select Plant Hire Company Ltd were fined £1.8m and ordered to pay costs of £13,922.

Laing O’Rourke’s health and safety director John Green said: "The company would like to express its profound regret and sorrow to the family and friends of Richard Reddish, who tragically died at work in July 2014, and our thoughts remain with them.

"Having entered a guilty plea and accepted responsibility from the outset, we respect the court’s decision.

"No incident such as this should ever occur. We have learnt significant lessons and implemented changes to our operations to continually improve the safety of our working environment."

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