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£10,000 in Compensation for Injured Construction Worker

£10,000 in Compensation for Injured Construction Worker

A construction firm in Grimsby has been ordered to pay £10,000 in compensation to an employee who suffered a serious leg injury at work. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company was guilty of several health and safety breaches.

Whilst working for Topcon Construction Ltd, Jamie North, 49, was involved in the construction of a new science block at Caistor Grammar School in Lincolnshire. The project required the installation of pre-cast concrete driven foundation piles. The six-metre long piles were driven into the ground, with the excess to be trimmed using a hydraulic pile cropper. Mr North was guiding a cropper over a pile when a colleague pushed another pile over, which twisted and landed onto Mr North’s leg.

Mr North sustained serious injuries, with his leg fractured in multiple places. He endured two operations, with a steel frame and screws fixed to his leg. He also suffered a blood clot, which resulted in a 21-day hospital stay, and has been unable to work for the past year, with treatment on his ankle still ongoing.

Company should have foreseen the high risk of injury

An investigation by the HSE showed that Topcon Construction had failed to ensure that work equipment was only used in suitable conditions.

The pile cropper hired by the company was not powerful enough to cut through the strength of the concrete piles; another more powerful cropper had recommended for the work, but Topcon had disregarded the advice. With the cropper hired, the concrete was “nibbled” away, with the pile then manually pushed over in an uncontrolled “tree-felling” manner. Accordingly, the HSE reported that the injuries sustained by Mr North were foreseeable and could have been avoided. The company had received a warning about the unsuitable nature of equipment it had hired but had opted to employ a high-risk method of dismantling the concrete piles, which saw them pushed over in areas where workers were present.

Compensation awarded on guilty plea

In a hearing at Lincoln Magistrates’ Court, Topcon Construction pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety regulations. A spokesman said “the company is very upset and regrets that an injury occurred to one of its valued workers”. In describing the incident as “isolated”, the firm stated “we take Health and Safety very seriously and had an exemplary record before this. The company strives to continuously improve and constantly reviews practices”.

The court awarded Mr North £10,000 in compensation for his injuries. Topcon Construction was also fined £10,000 and ordered to pay nearly £2,000 in costs, after admitting to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Martin Waring expressed dismay that Topcon Construction had failed to heed the warnings it had received about the suitability of the equipment. He stated “they should have foreseen that the felling of piles, in an area that workers could wander into, presented a high risk of injury”.

“Mr North suffered very serious leg injuries in an incident that could have been prevented, had the work been better planned and managed”.

There were 42 fatal injuries to workers ‑ 14 of these to the self-employed – in the construction industry in 2013/14.

Your employer is under a duty to reduce the risk of accidents taking place in your workplace, wherever that may be. Your employer’s duty is to take all reasonable steps to maintain a safe place of work. In order to fulfil this duty, your employer must do certain things.

  • Carry out a thorough risk assessment in relation to the premises, equipment and all working practices;
  • Implement any changes that are necessary following that assessment to correct problems and reduce the risk of injury;
  • Ensure that training is provided to all employees to ensure that the correct – and safest – procedures are being followed;
  • Ensure that all work equipment is in good working order and that the relevant employees are provided with full instructions for use.

If you want to enquire about making a claim for an accident at work, please contact a member of our team on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295.

Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to PI@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you. Malcolm Underhill can also be found on Google plus.