Tarmac Trading fined £1.3m after Liverpool roadworks deaths of two OAPs

Liverpool City Council and two of its contractors must pay more than £1.6m following two separate incidents involving pensioners on a busy road that was being resurfaced.

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Enterprise Liverpool had been contracted by the council to carry out resurfacing works on Queens Drive in Liverpool and it subcontracted Tarmac Trading.

On 3 July 2012, a 74-year-old man sustained head and back injuries when he was struck by a car while crossing at temporary lights.

Liverpool Crown Court was told that one side of the Queens Drive dual carriageway had been put into a contraflow to allow vehicles to travel in both directions. However, the temporary pedestrian lights were not working and no alternative was provided.

A month later, on 19 August, a second pensioner, 69-year-old Ernest Haughton, was knocked down and killed by a car as he tried to cross a single lane of traffic on the same road using a temporary pedestrian crossing.

Following complaints from motorists, traffic light changes had been made in order to reduce congestion. This removed the natural break in the traffic flow that pedestrians needed to cross the carriageway safely.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Liverpool City Council failed to implement suitable arrangements for managing the roadworks, did not appoint a coordinator for the work and instead delegated these responsibilities to Enterprise Liverpool.

The investigation also found that Enterprise Liverpool failed to ensure the designs for the traffic management were checked and approved, or that the construction plan for pedestrian routes and provision of barriers was being followed. At the time of the incidents, it provided no safe means for pedestrians crossing the works area or the carriageway.

Tarmac Trading, which was responsible for the provision and installation of the traffic and pedestrian management, did not provide alternative help for pedestrians at the time of the first incident though it was clear the temporary lights were broken.

When Haughton was killed, the faulty lights had been removed but there were no alternative control measures. A large A-frame sign was also placed on the crossing obscuring the view of pedestrians and motorists.

Tarmac Trading was fined £1.3m and ordered to pay £130,000 costs after it pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Enterprise Liverpool admitted breaching reg 22(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) (CDM) Regulations 2007, which covers the principal contractor’s duties. It was fined £25,000 plus £80,000 costs.

Liverpool City Council was fined £15,000 plus £100,000 costs after pleading guilty to breaching reg 9(1) of the CDM Regulations 2007 for failing its responsibility as the client to ensure that the arrangements made for the managing the project are suitable to ensure work is carried out without any risks to safety.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Jacqueline Western said: “The combined failure of all three dutyholders to comply with their duties on more than one occasion during the Queens Drive resurfacing project led to one man losing his life and another suffering serious injury. It could quite easily have been two fatal incidents.

“By engaging with the entire project team at the very start of the project, clients like Liverpool City Council can ensure that a good health and safety culture is embodied throughout the life of the project. Ongoing communication and cooperation between the principal contractors and subcontractors ensures that the project is being adequately planned, managed and monitored.”

Phoenix comment “The key aspects of the CDM Regulations 2015 is to improve health and safety by careful planning of the project, including managing the risks from the start to finish, cooperation and coordinate with stakeholders and communicating effectively the risk. There have been multiply failures in this project that were not addressed after the first incident, subsequently leading to an avoidable death”.