Three road construction firms heavily fined after worker loses arm

hseThree construction firms have been ordered to pay fines and costs of over £400,000 after health and safety breaches led to serious injuries to a worker.

Amey LG Ltd, Lafarge Aggregates Ltd, and Ashmac Consruction Ltd were ordered by the Watford Magistrates’ Court to pay fines and costs totalling £409,045 after a worker lost an arm when it became trapped in poorly-guarded machinery.

The injured man, a 53-year-old who does not wish to be named for personal reasons, was working on a road surfacing operation in Hertfordshire when the accident occurred on 8 March 2012.

On the day in question the worker, who had been assigned to work on the operation by Ashmac Construction Ltd, was preparing a chip spreader (a machine used to scatter pieces of stone chip across asphalt) for use. In order to properly prepare the chip spreader the worker had to set up and start the machine. However, whilst he was starting the machine his left arm became caught in the moving parts of the machine, resulting in serious injuries to the arm and the arm having to be removed in surgery. The 53-year-old worker has not returned to work since.

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) investigated the accident and found that there had been multiple health and safety failings by the various organisations, including:

  • Workers were not given any formal instruction on the chip spreader by Amey Lafarge and the man in question had only been given one evening to familiarise himself with the machine
  • Amey Lafarge had undertaken a risk assessment but had failed to undertake an assessment that reflect the risk of the particular chip spreader used
  • That reasonably practicable steps had not been taken by Ashmac Construction Ltd to ensure that its workers had received appropriate information, instruction and training on the type of chip spreader used

The case came to the Watford Magistrates’ Court on 25 March 2015, with all three companies pleading guilty to a breach of s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. As a result, Ashmac Construction Ltd was ordered to pay a fine of £30,015; Amey LG Ltd was ordered to pay a fine of £150,015; and Lafarge Aggregates Ltd was ordered to pay a fine of £175,015. All three companies were ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs to the sum of £18,000 each.

HSE inspector Mr Gavin Bull commented after the conclusion of the case: “This incident highlights the need for workers to receive the information, instruction and training they need to operate plant safely and for companies to put in place measures to ensure the plant is operated safely on site.”

Marc Hadrill, a personal injury solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “Businesses have health and safety obligations to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that the health, safety and welfare of their workers is protected. If businesses fail to take such steps then they can open themselves up to criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits.”