Southwark Crown Court heard how Renè Tkáčik died after being crushed by falling wet concrete on 7th March 2014. Two other men were injured following separate incidents within six days of one another, on 16th and 22th January 2015. All three incidents took place in the tunnels around the Fisher Street area.
The three workers were operating under Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), an unincorporated joint venture made up of three companies; BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) and Kier Infrastructure & Overseas.
Renè Tkáčik, aged 43 and from Slovakia, was working on a team enlarging the tunnel by removing rings of the existing pilot tunnel and spraying walls with liquid concrete. During this operation, a section of the roof collapsed and killed Mr Tkáčik.
On 16th January 2015 Terence ‘Ian’ Hughes was collecting some equipment from inside one of the tunnels when he was struck by a reversing excavator. He suffered severe fractures to his right leg and crush injuries to his left knee and shin.
Six days later worker Alex Vizitiu, who was part of a team tasked with spraying liquid concrete lining, was assisting with the cleaning of the pipes that supply the concrete. Due to a lack of communication one of the lines was disconnected and he was hit by pressurised water and concrete debris. He suffered head and hip injuries as well as a broken finger and was hospitalised for six days.
A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found a failure to provide a safe system of work relating to the operations Renè Tkáčik and Alex Vizitiu were working on. It was also found there was a failure to properly maintain the excavator that reversed into Ian Hughes.
On all three occasions, the investigation found a failure to properly enforce exclusion zones that would have helped protect workers from foreseeable harm.
Bam Ferrovial Kier pleaded guilty to three offences. In relation to the death of Renè Tkáčik, it admitted to breaching Regulation 10(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £300,000 in relation to this offence.
BFK also pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Section 22 (1a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, relating to the two incidents in January 2015. The joint venture was fined £600,000 for the incident involving Ian Hughes on 16th January, and £165,000 for the incident relating to Alex Vizitiu on 22nd January.
The total fine is therefore £1,065,000. The defendant was also ordered to pay costs of £42,337.28.
HSE head of operations Annette Hall said: “The omission to implement exclusion zones in a high hazard environment was a consistent failure in this case. Had simple measures such as these been taken, all three incidents could have been prevented, and Renè Tkáčik may not have died.
“We believe every person should be healthy and safe at work. Here, all three workers were taking part in one of the most important and challenging infrastructure projects of the decade. It was this joint venture’s duty to protect its dedicated and highly-skilled workforce. On these three occasions, BFK failed in its duty, with tragic consequences for Renè Tkáčik and his family.”
After already setting aside £2m for safety fines in the year to 30th June 2017, Kier has made provisions for £8m in fines for the current financial year. [See previous report here.]