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Fines after Crossrail death and injuries.

Joint venture companies working for Crossrail have been fined £1m for three sets of failures, one of which led to the death of a construction worker.

The construction worker, Renè Tkáčik, 44, died in March 2014 in Fisher Street tunnel, near Holborn, as nearly a tonne of wet concrete was poured on to him.

Evidence suggested he had entered an exclusion zone, an area 1m back from wet, freshly-sprayed concrete, to clean Kwikastrip reinforcement bars covered in wet concrete when the accident happened.

In evidence read out by the prosecution in court, an apprentice who was working with Mr Tkáčik at the time  said he heard a loud thud and turned round to see Mr Tkáčik lying on his back, unconscious and submerged in concrete. Mr Tkáčik was pronounced dead at the scene when the emergency services arrived.

In the hearing at Southwark Crown Court, the prosecution claimed there was confusion among workers about where the exclusion zone began following an investigation into the incident.

It was claimed some workers believed the exclusion zone started 2-3 m away from the danger zone; some thought it was 5m; and some claimed they had not been briefed at all.

There was also no physical barrier in place to mark the exclusion zone. Workers relied on briefings at the start of each shift as to where  it began which the prosecution said posed a risk that workers would inadvertently, or otherwise, enter the danger zone.

The hearing also heard that two methods of cleaning Kwikastrip reinforcement bars were used across the Crossrail project, which could have had an impact on events leading up to Mr Tkacik’s death.

These were the shovel method, where wet concrete is removed from Kwikastrip reinforcement bars, and the digger or jigger method, where concrete is left to dry and is removed using a digger or jigger.

The prosecution said Mr Tkáčik was the only person in his team to use the shovel method to clean the strips and claimed this could have encouraged him to enter the exclusion zone.

The two other incidents saw a worker injured when a tipper truck crushed his leg, while another man was injured when a high-pressure mixture struck him.

The companies admitted the health and safety breaches after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

BFK, joint venture contractors comprising of BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) and Kier Infrastructure and Overseas, admitted breaching Regulation 10(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £300,000 in relation to Mr Tkáčik.

BFK was also fined £600,000 for the serious leg injuries to worker, Terrence Hughes, in January 2015 and £165,000 for the injuries, Alex Vizitiu, who hurt his head and suffered hip injuries, also in January 2015 after pleading guilty to two separate breaches of Section 22 (1a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

HSE head of operations, Annette Hall, said: "Had simple measures been taken, all three incidents could have been prevented, and Renè Tkáčik may not have died.

"All three workers were taking part in one of the most important and challenging infrastructure projects of the decade. It was this joint venture's duty to protect its dedicated and highly-skilled workforce.

"On these three occasions, BFK failed in its duty, with tragic consequences for Renè Tkáčik and his family."

During sentencing, Judge Beddoe said: "The fines I impose do not and cannot attempt to place value on human life. The deceased was a very talented and industrious man who devoted his life to his family, in particular his daughter, his wife and his mother."

 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.