A major construction firm has been sentenced and fined following the death of employee Philip Griffiths at Heathrow Airport in 2 October 2014.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Philip’s brother Paul accidentally reversed into his 38-year-old sibling when the pair were trying to move a broken down scissor lift on a service road, while working for Laing O’Rourke.
Paul Griffiths had been trying to tow the scissor lift away using a dumper truck under the direction of managers. During the attempt his foot got stuck between the brake and the accelerator and the truck reversed. Philip was standing between the two vehicles, and suffered crush injuries. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that neither worker was authorised with the appropriate certificate to use the dumper truck, and that the operation was not properly overseen or managed.
Laing O’Rourke Construction Limited of Crossways in Dartford pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.
Speaking after sentence, HSE Inspector Jack Wilby said:
“This incident was a tragedy for all concerned and, as revealed by our investigation, entirely avoidable. Laing O’Rourke did nothing to address the trend of these workers carrying out tasks they weren’t trained or authorised for. These dedicated staff, including Philip and his brother, needed appropriate supervision.
“Had there been appropriate supervision, then better segregation between Philip and these two vehicles could have been established and maintained. This case should act as a reminder of the dangers of using workplace transport without proper planning, management or monitoring of the risks involved.”
Every year there are over 5000 incidents involving transport in the workplace. About 50 of these result in fatalities. This is the second time in four years that Laing O’Rourke has been fined following the death of a worker at the airport. This devastating family incident highlights the dangers of using workplace transport without proper planning, management or monitoring of the risks involved. To manage workplace transport effectively, consider these three key areas when carrying out your risk assessment:
- Safe site (design and activity)
- Safe vehicle
- Safe driver.