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Harrogate construction firm fined £330,000 after worker killed by 16-ton excavator


A construction company has been fined £330,500 after one of its workers was struck on the head and killed by a 16-ton excavator.

HACS Construction Ltd, Harrogate, was fined after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which regulates workplace health and safety.

Dean Myers, 56, was killed undertaking groundwork in a partially excavated trench at a site at Ripon, North Yorkshire, on January 13, 2021, when he was struck on his head by the excavator’s moving bucket. He was certified dead at the scene.

According to the HSE, the groundworks team had been preparing the trench for new drainage to be laid.

Dean Myers had moved to the foot of an existing manhole adjacent to the trench when the excavator was reported to have met resistance whilst digging.

With nothing in place to prevent his entry into the excavator’s danger zone, Dean Myers exited the manhole through a makeshift opening to investigate. However, the excavator driver and other workers could not see that he had entered the danger zone and the excavator bucket swung into him.

The HSE’s guidance on excavator industry safety include considering clearance, visibility, and the bucket attachment.

HSE’s investigation found HACS had failed to identify or assess the risk arising from using the existing manhole chamber as an improvised refuge. This meant the company failed to implement a system whereby workers were prevented from entering the dangerous working zone of the excavator while the machine was being operated by a driver with limited visibility.

There was also inadequate supervision on site, alongside a failure to carry out monitoring visits which would have identified crucial safety failings.

HACS, of Station Yard, Ripley, pleaded guilty at Leeds Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £330,500 and ordered to pay £9,141.80 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector, Ben Caines, said: “This tragic incident could so easily have been avoided had HACS Construction Limited simply ensured that adequate control measures and safe working practices were identified and followed.

“The company should have put in place measures including the use of trained plant marshals for high-risk activities, such as the work Mr Myers was undertaking. Such measures are widely recognised and used across the construction industry as well as being advised within HSE and industry guidance."