A civil engineering firm has been fined £600K for safety breaches after a missing seven-year-old child was found dead by workers on a construction site.
On the morning of 26 July 2016, Conley Thompson went missing from home and was found when work restarted the next day on a construction site in South Yorkshire. He had become trapped in a drainage pipe and suffocated.
The construction site was a new-build housing development next to an existing housing estate and adjacent to busy pedestrian footpaths and roads. The safety watchdog found that there was insufficient fencing in place to prevent unauthorised persons from accessing the construction site due to a combination of poor planning, management and monitoring of the site and its perimeter.
‘Conley should never have been able to be on that site,’ noted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector. ‘He should have been kept out.’
Investigators told Sheffield Crown Court that the drainage pipe had been fixed into the ground in preparation for the installation of fencing posts.
The dangers to children gaining access to construction sites and treating them like a playground is an ongoing problem which must be addressed at all types of sites no matter what their complexity or size.
Howard Civil Engineering admitted breaching regulation 13(4)(b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations and section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. As well as the £600,000 fine, the company was ordered to pay £42,952.
The construction industry should be aware of the dangers of construction sites to members of the public and any other unauthorised persons and must do all it can to ensure children can’t access construction sites and be exposed to the inherent risks they present to prevent further tragedies like this from occurring.
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