Construction businesses prosecuted over death of worker

July 3, 2012

Two construction companies have recently been fined over £300,000 after an employee’s fatal fall of 22 metres in Manchester some years ago.

The building site where Christopher Heaton lost his life was on the location of the Left Bank riverside apartments in the centre of Manchester. He was forced over the guardrail, which was on the scaffolding platform, when he was caught up in a chain.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found sufficient grounds to ensure that the site’s main contractor, Amec Group Ltd, and the steel-erection company named Shawton Engineering Ltd were prosecuted after a thorough investigation into the circumstances of 25 year old Mr Heaton’s untimely death.

The court was told Mr Heaton had been attempting to use a chain from a scaffolding platform to re position a steel beam that was three storeys above him. One of the supporting brackets broke and he was hit by a steel block that fell on him and he became entangled in the operating chain, and was forced over the side of the scaffolding.

An HSE probe into the incident discovered that incorrect studs had been used to hold the chain and the work had been improperly planned out and supervised.

The Amec Group Ltd was found to be at fault as they had breached Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety Act, by not ensuring the safety of its workers. This verdict followed a trial at Liverpool Crown Court. The company that is based at Birchwood Boulevard, Birchwood, Warrington, was ordered to pay out £333,866 in costs for the prosecution on 29th June 2012.

Shawton Engineering Ltd of Merseyside admitted guilt to breaching Section 2(2)(a) of the Act by not providing and maintaining a safe method of work. It only received a small fine of £1,000, as it has gone into administration.

The father of the deceased worker said their son’s loss had ruined their lives, as he had been their light. He acknowledged that just simply adhering to correct safety guidelines and the incident would not have happened.

The latest data indicates that 50 construction site employees were killed while undertaking work in Britain in 2010/11, while 3,000 received serious injuries.