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18-Year-Old Killed on Domestic Construction Site

Two companies and two people have been sentenced after a teenage construction worker was fatally injured while working on a house-build construction site in Lincolnshire.

P & R Plant Hire (Lincolnshire) Limited, D. Brown (Building Contractors) Limited, Brent Woods and Darrell Tripp were all fined following the death of 18-year-old Josh Disdel.

The events

Lincoln Crown Court was told that in July 2018 Josh and another worker, both employed by P & R Plant Hire, had been tasked with clearing debris from manholes at a house-build construction site at White Bridges, Boston.

While work was taking place, Josh’s colleague was asked if he could move the works van to allow another vehicle to pass. However, he was not aware that Josh was lying on the road with his head and torso in a manhole, directly in front of the van.

As the vehicle moved forwards one of the wheels entered the top of the manhole contacting Josh. He was then taken to hospital but later died as a result of serious crush injuries.

HSE investigation

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigators found that neither the Principal Contractor, D. Brown, nor the groundworks sub-contractor, P & R Plant Hire, had ensured that the work was planned in such a way to ensure that workers were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Lack of assessments

Brent Woods, a manager within P & R Plant Hire for around 10 years, sent employees to carry out the task without a risk assessment or method statement in place despite having previously produced such information in the past.

In addition, workers had not been trained to work in a road, had not been provided with any equipment to ensure the work was carried out safely and had not been provided with any instruction on any safety measures to be used at site.

Darrell Tripp, a site manager for D. Brown for approximately four years, having worked in the construction industry for about four decades, did not carry out a site induction of Josh and failed to carry out suitable checks to ensure the workers had the relevant training. Darrell also failed to ensure there was a safe system of work in place of whether there were adequate control measures. 

Court findings

D. Brown (Building Contractors) Limited was found guilty of contravening Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,765.

P & R Plant Hire (Lincolnshire) Limited admitted contravening section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,264.

Brent Woods was found guilty of contravening section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was sentenced to 18 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and pay costs of £1,200.

Darrell Tripp was found guilty of contravening section 7(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. He was sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to pay costs of £1200.

Response From HSE

‘This was a completely avoidable incident, caused by a multitude of failures by both companies and both of the individuals who appeared in court,’ said HSE inspector Mark Welsh after the hearing. 

All of the defendants failed to adequately plan the work to identify the risks, failed to ensure that the individuals carrying out the work were trained and competent to do so, and failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place and followed. 

The result was the tragic loss of life of a young man who was looking forward to a bright future. 

Key learnings

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Safe working practices, established through suitable and sufficient risk assessments must be put in place for everyone’s protection. These assessments and method statements should be produced in conjunction with, and co-operation of any employees who are likely to be affected by the operation or task being risk assessed. They should be freely available and reviewed at regular intervals or if there are any changes to the operation or task. 

We all have a duty to not only ensure our own health and safety but that of our colleagues and a working culture should encouraged whereby employees feel able to speak up about any concerns they may have. 

If you have any questions relating to this or any health and safety concerns, I’d be more than happy to have a discussion. 

Information relating to managing risk and risk assessments at work can be found here.

Another article on health and safety news is available here.

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Picture of Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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