Construction firm fined after worker's narrow escape
A construction worker had a narrow escape, after falling four metres from the cage of a 20-tonne cherry picker into the path of an oncoming bus, which then pushed him another 15 metres down the Euston Road.
The national construction company firm Galliford Try Construction Ltd has been prosecuted by the HSE for serious safety failings, resulting in the worker being severely injured. The two-man team was brought in by Galliford Try to fix snagging issues at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Chambers - which had just had a £103 million restoration by the company.
They had been instructed to remove the tape from the outside of an apartment window on the third floor of the residential block on 4 March 2011, in the early morning. The contractors needed to use a cherry picker for the job, as scaffolding had been removed from the site and had to move the cherry picker from a compound in Euston Road to one in Midland Road. As Mr Soltysiak proceeded to reverse the machine out of the exit onto the Euston Road and raised his operator platform to clear the fencing, he backed out unaware that a double-decker bus had just turned into the road.
Despite the other contractor waving to try and get the bus to stop, as it was dark the driver did not see. As a result, the top of the bus hit the operator platform overhanging the road, forcing the jib to slew across and hit a brick gate post. The driver was then catapulted from the platform and fell in front of the moving bus. Thinking he had hit a tree, the bus driver braked and stopped 15 metres further along. Mr Soltysiak was found half underneath the front nearside, suffering serious injuries to his head, arm, pelvis and legs - and was only able to return to work earlier this year.
After investigating the incident, HSE proved that the incident could have been avoided had Galliford Try properly planned and supervised the work. Following the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Herris explained that this series of events could have proved fatal.
"This worker narrowly escaped death after a series of events which almost seem unbelievable but in fact could have proved fatal."
"A 14-metres long slow-moving machine, not suitable for use on a public highway, was moved against the flow of traffic on to a three-lane road. Both workers were without high visibility clothing and there were no visible warning lights on the cherry picker despite it being early morning and still dark, which made it, and the men, effectively invisible to the bus driver.
The dangers involved using cherry-pickers are well known and yet the company failed to ensure the safe movement of the vehicle between different compounds at the site.
The company also failed to provide adequate and relevant information and instruction to their employees."
Galliford Try Construction Ltd have pleaded guilty to two serious breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £12000, having to pay costs of £16,459.70.