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Fatal dumper spill leads to suspended jail sentences

30 Nov 20 A construction company director and a project manager have been handed suspended jail sentences after the death of a dumper truck driver.

The driver had been given no training and was unsupervised when his forward tipping dumper truck overturned and killed him.

Swansea Crown Court heard how on 1st October 2016 the employee was working alone at a construction site in West Aberthaw, Vale of Glamorgan. He was operating a dumper around a construction site that had no designated traffic routes.

The 38-year-old man was found two days later with fatal crush injuries at the bottom of a ramp, which formed part of a spoil heap.

His injuries were consistent with being struck by the rollover protection structure (ROPS) bar of the overturning dumper truck. He was not wearing a seatbelt so had either tried to jump clear or been thrown from the vehicle.

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An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that the access ramp was uneven, made up of loose ground. The slope and cross slope of the ramp exceeded the dumper truck’s machine maximum operating capacity. Untrained operators regularly used construction vehicles on routes that were not suitable for the vehicles and there was no effective management of health and safety on the construction site.

TSD group project manager Graham Kuhlmann of Parcau Road, Bridgend pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was given a 21-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Sole director of Pro’conn Limited, the principal contractor at the site, Kevin March of Fields Park Road, Pontcanna, Cardiff, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He received a 32-week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

HSE inspector Paul Newton said after the hearing: “The risks associated with untrained operators using construction vehicles on uneven ground with excessive slopes are foreseeable. This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident. Those responsible for managing health and safety on construction sites should ensure that traffic routes are safe, designed and managed, for the vehicles using them; and only those with the necessary skills, training and knowledge should be asked to operate construction vehicles.”

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