Thames Water fined £300K for worker killed by a reversing excavator
Thames Water has been ordered to pay more than £361,000 in fines and costs by Southwark Crown Court following the death of a worker at a treatment works in Walthamstow. The court heard that Raymond Holmes was killed by a reversing excavator at the Coppermill Lane site on April 30, 2010.
The case against Thames Water followed an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which identified serious failings with the way the machines and workers were allowed to operate.
Holmes had been carrying out profiling work as part of team cleaning a large sand filter bed, a process that involved the use of several items of large mobile plant machinery, including the excavator that struck him. He had been using laser levelling equipment to measure the depth of the sand bed on foot, and was struck by an excavator working close by after the driver reversed without seeing him or realising he was there.
HSE established that although Thames Water recognised the need for control measures to mitigate the risk of a collision between plant and workers, the company failed to implement sufficient measures on the day. Those working in the beds, including Holmes, had also received no formal instruction or supervision to ensure they understood the safe systems of work.
HSE also found that nobody was required to wear hi-visibility clothing, and that the excavator involved was not equipped with effective rear view mirrors or any form of reversing aid or alarm.
The court heard that had the work been better planned and managed, with effective control measures in place, Holmes’ death could have been avoided.
Thames Water was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay a further £61,229 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After sentencing, HSE inspector Nick Patience commented: “Raymond Holmes sadly lost his life because basic safety standards were not in place to protect him and other workers. Working alongside mobile plant can be extremely dangerous, and it is vital that effective control measures are in place at all times to ensure collisions are avoided.
“Although Thames Water had identified the potential risks, the company failed to ensure the necessary precautions and safe systems of work were in place, understood by all and monitored on that fateful day.”
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