Third fine over foreman’s quick hitch excavator bucket death

A groundworks contractor is the latest firm to be fined after a foreman was killed when an excavator bucket filled with concrete fell on him at a London site.

Euro Earthworks Ltd general foreman Gerry Fox was crushed by an excavator bucket in August 2007 when it fell from the arm of the 12 tonne excavator being driven by a colleague.

Euro Earthworks, of Boston Manor, Brentford, Hounslow was convicted of safety breaches and fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,000.

City of London Magistrates’ Court heard that Euro Earthworks failed to adequately plan, manage and monitor work on site.

Fellow defendants Hydro Plant Ltd, of Wadsworth Close, Greenford, Brent and Michael Denis Cunningham, of Latimer Road, Eastbourne were fined a total of £18,700 at an earlier hearing in May.

The court heard a pin in the ‘quick hitch’ – a device attached to the excavator arm used for the rapid changing of attachments – which was necessary to safely lock the excavator bucket in place was not inserted, causing the bucket to fall on Fox.

HSE’s investigation found reasonable care was not taken for the health and safety of fellow employees by positioning the bucket which was filled with concrete, directly over Fox and site supervisor Tim McCarthy who narrowly missed being hit by the bucket.

Magistrates also heard HSE issued advice on the safe use of quick hitches on excavators in March 2007.

Euro Earthworks Ltd was aware of this advice and had made amendments to its written risk assessment, but still failed to take reasonably practicable steps that would have prevented the incident.

HSE Inspector Loraine Charles said: ”This tragic incident was entirely preventable.

“There had already been a significant number of incidents involving buckets becoming detached from quick hitches, in particular semi-automatic quick hitches where operators had failed to insert the safety pin.

“Mr Cunningham can have been in no doubt that he should not have operated the excavator without the quick hitch’s safety pin in place and that he should not have manoeuvred the bucket over people.”

August 4, 2011 | Categories: News |
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