• Robert Spicer

M25 Construction Death Prosecution

M25 construction death: company and bulldozer operator fined

Health and Safety Executive v J McArdle Contracts Ltd and Stephen Blackmore (2014) Chelmsford Crown Court, July 11

J McArdle Contracts Ltd, a construction company, and Stephen Blackmore, a bulldozer operator, have been sentenced following the death of a worker on the M25 widening project.

Significant points of the case

  • In October 2010 Mihai Hondru, an employee of J McArdle, was working on the M25 widening project at Upminster.

  • His work involved directing lorries to the correct position on an embankment for the to tip loads of soil. Blackmore’s job was to level the soil with his bulldozer.

  • Hondru was struck by the reversing bulldozer and suffered fatal injuries.

  • The company had carried out a risk assessment and had implemented a one-way system to minimise the risks to pedestrians from moving vehicles.

  • On the day of the incident, ground conditions had changed. This meant that vehicles had to reverse into position. Inadequate safety measures were put in place to protect workers operating near the reversing bulldozer.

  • Blackmore had failed to take sufficient account of the deceased’s presence in his immediate vicinity. He did not make sure that he knew exactly where Hondru was. He assumed that he was not in his way or that he would move out of his way when he reversed his vehicle.

The company, which is now in liquidation, was fined £2000 for a breach of section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees. The judge is reported to have commented that if the company had still been trading, the fine would have been £200,000.

Blackmore was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for twelve months, and order to pay £2500 costs, under regulation 37 (3) (a), Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007. This states, in summary, that any vehicle being used for the purposes of construction shall, when being driven, operated or towed, be driven, operated or towed in such a manner as is safe in the circumstances.

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