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Tue April 13 2021

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Kier fined £1.5m after roadworks death

20 Dec 17 Kier has been fined £1.8m after a worker was fatally struck by machinery while working on roadworks near Lidgate in Suffolk.

Subcontractor Sean Hegarty Ltd was fined £75,000 for the same incident.

Ipswich Magistrates’ Court heard that Kier Integrated Services was the principal contractor for the roadworks and Sean Hegarty was the subcontractor on the B1063 north of Lidgate, Suffolk during work to resurface the carriageway for Suffolk County Council.

On 13th May 2014, workers from Sean Hegarty were using a road planer to remove the old tar from the south bound side of the road, while the north bound side had traffic lights to control the direction of the traffic. During this operation, the driver of the company’s flatbed lorry observed a roadworks colleague lying in the road to the offside rear of his vehicle, which had been reversing slowing behind the road planer’s conveyor belt to collect the debris the planer scraped from the road’s surface.

The man, Aidan Gallagher, aged 37, was taken to hospital, but died of his extensive injuries.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted both companies after an investigation found that the companies had failed to ensure that the operation of the road planer was carried out in such a manner to ensure vehicles and pedestrians could move safely around the roadworks without exposing persons to risks to their health and safety.

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Kier Integrated Services Ltd of Tempsford Hall, Sandy, Bedfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £1.8m and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs (plus a victim surcharge of £120).

Sean Hegarty Ltd of Felixstowe pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 Suffolk. It was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £12,405 in costs (plus a victim surcharge of £120).

HSE Inspector David King said after the hearing: “The planning of roadworks needs to start by considering the design, and how road workers and members of the public will be protected from moving vehicles, this could mean road closures, reducing speed limits or other measures. Whatever the controls in place, those in the area need to have sufficient space, barriers and controls to ensure the risks to them are minimised.

“In this instance the only control measures in place were cones along the centre of the road, and traffic was allowed to pass at 60mph, close to the workers who were not provided with a safety zone given the lack of space. Had adequate controls and a safe system of work been in place this terrible incident could have been prevented.”

This was Kier’s third big health & safety prosecution of the past year. It was fined £1.5m in December 2016 after a worker’s leg was broken in trench collapse and £400,000 in March 2017 after a worker fell from height. Kier has set aside a £2m provision for fines for health and safety incidents in its current financial year and a further £8m next year.

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