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Tue August 11 2020

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Allenbuild fined £600k after site worker run over

5 Feb 19 A construction company has been fined £600,000 after site worker was run over and killed by a dumper truck.

Edinburgh Sherriff Court heard how, on 5th December 2016, Allenbuild Limited was the principal contractor on a construction site when agency labourer Vincent Ramsay was run over and killed by a dumper truck, driven by an employee of Crummock (Scotland) Limited. The incident happened at a building site known as The Engine Yard at Leith Walk in Edinburgh.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive found that Allenbuild had failed to organise the construction site in such a way to ensure that pedestrians were not carrying out work on or near traffic routes whilst vehicles were in operation. It is thought that Mr Ramsay was crouched down to spray paint a pile marker in front of a dumper truck, when it moved forward, driving over him.

Allenbuild Limited of Cheapside, London pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and was fined £600,000.

On sentencing, Sheriff Norman McFadyen said: “Allenbuild Limited accept that, as the principal contractor for the redevelopment of the former bus and tram depot, they failed to organise the construction site in such a way that, so far as was reasonably practicable, pedestrians and vehicles could move without risks to health or safety in that they failed to ensure that pedestrians were not carrying out work on or near traffic routes whilst vehicles were in operation, in consequence of which Vincent Ramsay, who was a labourer engaged in pile mark respraying, was struck by a dumper truck and sustained fatal injuries.

“It was Allenbuild which had the overall duty to organise the construction site in a way that, so far as was reasonably practicable, pedestrians and vehicles could move without risks to health or safety. The redevelopment at the site was to include housing and an underground car park and it was in the area of the projected underground car park that the accident occurred.  That part of the site was accessed by a dirt ramp and the accident was near the bottom of the ramp.  There were a number of sub-contractors working on the site, undertaking excavation and drainage works, piling works and environmental cleaning works in the engine sheds.

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“Vincent Ramsay was 55 years old, was married and is survived by his wife and four adult children.  He was employed on the site as a labourer via an agency and he had worked there since construction began in August 2016.  He was highly thought of by colleagues and regarded as hardworking and conscientious.  His general duties involved keeping the site compound and welfare area clean, salting paths in bad weather and erecting and dismantling fencing as required.  He was known for trying to keep busy and would often ask others if there were any jobs he could do for them.

“His line manager was the site manager and he was not directly supervised by any one individual on site.  He spent a significant amount of time assisting the site engineer setting out pile markings and respraying them if required.  Pile markings are steel pins which mark the location of the over 1000 steel piles which were intended to provide stable foundations on the site and an “X” would be spray-painted on the ground as an additional visual marker.  While Mr Ramsay often worked alongside the site engineer he was known to work on his own initiative and without instruction respraying pile markings which may have been washed away or rubbed out by vehicles and the site manager and site engineer were both aware of that.

“It was such a task on which Mr Ramsay was engaged when he died and he was undertaking that task, as he would sometimes do, without specific instruction to do so.  A dumper truck which was carrying excavated earth had stopped to allow other vehicles on the site to manoeuvre.  Mr Ramsay was crouched down to respray a pile marker with spray paint.  The driver of the dumper truck, which had restricted visibility in the area immediately to the front, because of the skip, which sits to the front of the driver and its load, had not seen Mr Ramsay and, when the traffic in front of him had cleared moved forward, striking and running over Mr Ramsay.   The driver’s attention was immediately engaged by another driver who did see Mr Ramsay, but he was found to be unresponsive, did not respond to resuscitation and was pronounced dead a little later.”

He added: “In mitigation it was stated on behalf of the company that it had been in business for 70 over years and had no previous convictions. It had pled guilty at the earliest opportunity. The company had an excellent health and safety record and a strong health and safety culture.  The work at the site had commenced in August 2016 and the company had put in place measures to ensure the project was conducted safely, including traffic management plans and regular inspection and audit by their own supervisors and external health and safety consultants. It was not a congested site and in the early stages there were few vehicles and personnel there. At the time of the accident the principal issue was pedestrian access across the site to a building at the rear and segregated access was established.  Pedestrian segregation for the workforce was established from the welfare premises to the point where work was undertaken and in respect of movement of vehicles where necessary a banksman would be engaged.  The site was generally operated in such a way that those on foot and in vehicles would be kept separate, although it was accepted that there was a failure in respect of the activity of Mr Ramsay.  It was accepted that steps should have been taken to supervise him more closely.

“The company had taken immediate and robust action following the accident and cooperated fully with the HSE.  The offence was wholly out of character.   The company was a member of the Considerate Constructors Scheme which monitors industry standards and which can and does attend sites unannounced to carry out an audit.  On average there are two such visits at each site at which the company has operated.  In the last five years the company has obtained 57 certificates of performance beyond compliance with the relevant standards.”

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