Road Construction Firms Sentenced After Road Worker Loses Arm 0

Three construction businesses have been sentenced to pay over £400,000 in fines and costs for significant safety violations, after a worker lost his arm when it became entangled in poorly-guarded machinery during a road surfacing job in Hertfordshire.

The 53-year old road worker was preparing a chip spreader — a machine used to distribute stone chips on asphalt – for resurfacing works on the A1001 in Hatfield when his left arm became caught in the machine’s rotating auger, causing catastrophic injuries.

The highly skilled individual, who wishes to remain anonymous, had his arm amputated shortly after the tragedy and has been unable to return to work since.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident on March 8, 2012, and prosecuted Amey LG Ltd, Lafarge Aggregates Ltd (acting as Amey Lafarge, the joint venture in charge of the operation), and Ashmac Construction Ltd, which provided workers to the joint venture, for multiple safety violations at Watford Magistrates’ Court.

The court was told, in order to prepare the chip spreader for operation, the worker assigned on the site by Ashmac Construction Ltd started the machine and the rotation of its internal auger. During the operation of setting the equipment up for usage his arm became entangled in dangerous moving elements.

It was discovered that all three companies had safety issues, according to the HSE inquiry.

HSE concluded the worker, who was not formally qualified in the use of the spreader, and his colleagues were only given one evening to familiarise themselves with the machine by Amey Lafarge when they started work on site six months before the event.

Neither was an operator’s manual provided to the workers by Amey Lafarge, nor were they given any instructions or training on how to use the equipment safely, including how to secure guards. In addition, there was no safe system of work in place to guarantee that the machine was set up and operated properly and that its use was restricted to those who were trained.

The Amey Lafarge did have a risk assessment and a site-specific procedure statement but these did not represent the reality of the controls in place for the usage of the chip spreader. In fact, the chip spreader used on site differed from the one stated in the risk assessment.

Ashmac Construction Ltd did not take reasonably reasonable precautions to ensure workers that it deployed on site had received necessary knowledge, instruction and training in the safe use of the chipper they were operating.

Amey LG Ltd, of the Sherard Building, Edmund Halley Road, Oxford, was fined £150,015 and ordered to pay costs of £18,000 after pleading guilty to one contravention of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

After pleading guilty to one violation of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Lafarge Aggregates Ltd of Portland House, Bickenhill Lane, Solihull, Birmingham, was fined £175,015 and ordered to pay costs of £18,000.

Ashmac Construction Ltd of Pavillion Court, Pavilion Drive, Northampton, was fined £30,015 and ordered to pay costs of £18,000 after pleading guilty to a contravention of section 3(1) the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

“This tragic incident has left a worker with life-changing injuries,” stated HSE inspector Gavin Bull after the incident. It was entirely preventable. In the industry, the dangers of running a plant are well-known.

In light of this incident, “workers must be provided with the information, instruction, and training they require to operate the plant safely, and companies must put measures in place to ensure the plant is operated safely on site.”

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Last Updated on December 29, 2021


Author: Indra Gupta

Indra is an in-house writer with a love of Newcastle United and all things sustainable.

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