The HSE inspector who caught the company out said that “there was simply no excuse for the way the machine was being used. It was in the middle of the site and there was nothing to prevent the guard from being fitted.”
Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court heard how Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Melvyn Stancliffe made an inspection of a site in Maidstone, Kent, in December 2014 and saw how the piling rig was being operated with no safety guard.
HSE had previously visited three Southern Piling sites and had raised concerns about the guarding standards on each occasion. After the fourth site visit, the HSE was told that the machine had been in use for more than two weeks without the guard.
Southern Piling Limited, of The Pagets, Newick, Lewes, East Sussex, was fined a total of £16,000 and ordered to pay nearly £5,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaches of Regulation 11(1)(a) of PUWER 1998 and Regulation 13(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.
Speaking after the hearing, Melvyn Stancliffe said: “I dread to think, even at low speed, what might have happened had someone inadvertently fallen on to the unguarded auger. This is incredibly powerful machinery, capable of causing life-changing or even fatal injuries.”