Contractor fined after driver killed by collapsed piling rig

A UK-based engineering and groundworks contractor has received a £233,000 fine after a 52-year-old heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver was struck and killed by the mast of a piling rig.

Person holding mobile phone with logo of UK agency Health and Safety Executive (HSE) on screen in front of web page. Image: Timon via AdobeStock (stock.adobe.com)

Gary Dobinson, 52, was employed by another company and visited the Hallmeadow development off Elm Road in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, with his lorry on 21 January 2021.

He was to collect and transfer the piling rig, owned by Van Elle Limited, based in Nottinghamshire, England.

But as the mast of the rig was being lowered in preparation for its transportation, it suddenly collapsed and struck Mr Dobinson. Site workers and the emergency services raced to the scene to try to help him, but he sadly died from his injuries.

An investigation by Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that insufficient measures had been taken to maintain the piling rig in a safe condition prior to the incident.

The securing lug for one of the mast’s retaining pins was badly corroded and failed, allowing the pin to displace, causing the mast to topple, according to the HSE.

Van Elle Limited, of Southwell Lane, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £233,000 (€271,951) at Dumfries Sheriff Court on 4 June 2024.

HSE inspector James Caren said: “All work equipment should be subject to suitable inspection and maintenance to ensure that it can be used without risk to the safety of those using it and those in the vicinity. Construction plant are exposed to harsh conditions and require effective inspection and maintenance regimes to avoid safety defects developing.

“The company should have had robust measures in place to maintain the piling rig so that it was structurally sound and could be operated safely.”

HSE guidance on maintaining and inspecting plant can be found here: The safe use of vehicles on construction sites: A guide for clients, designers, contractors, managers and workers involved with construction transport – HSG144 (hse.gov.uk)

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