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Laing O'Rourke firms fined £3.8m over death at offsite factory

Two companies belonging to Laing O’Rourke have been fined a total of £3.8m following the death of a worker at its Steetley offsite manufacturing plant in 2014.

Laing O’Rourke’s offsite manufacturing arm, Explore Manufacturing, was fined £2m, and its plant hire arm, Select Plant Hire, was fined £1.8m after Explore Manufacturing employee Richard Reddish was crushed while working at the Explore Industrial Park in Steetley, Worksop.

Nottingham Crown Court heard that on 8 July 2014 Mr Reddish was working on a mobile elevating work platform (MEWP), removing the lifting attachments from the top of a concrete panel, which weighed about 11 tonnes and was stored on a transport pallet.

While Mr Reddish was working, the panel began to topple and struck the MEWP while Mr Reddish was standing on it, throwing him out of the basket.

The falling panel also caused a number of other concrete panels to fall, one of which fell onto Mr Reddish.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive confirmed that the frame used to secure the panel was not properly connected to the pallet, as a pin had not been correctly reinserted after the frame had previously been replaced.

It was also confirmed that there was no system of pre-use checks on the panel.

The pallets were supplied by Select Plant Hire, which shared responsibility for their maintenance with Explore Manufacturing.

The investigation also found the pallets were in poor condition, with defects including missing support bearings and stabilising legs.

Other failures included the large concrete panels not being secured on storage racks, as well as wider concerns for the storage of concrete at the plant.

Explore Manufacturing pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc Act 1974 for its failure to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees during the transportation and storage of the precast concrete panels.

It was fined £2m and ordered to pay costs of £13,922.

Select Plant Hire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety Act for its failure to maintain the transport pallets in operation at the Explore facility and thereby exposing employees to safety risks.

It was fined £1.8m and ordered to pay costs of £13,922.

HSE inspector Stuart Pilkington said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man, whose death could easily have been prevented if the companies had acted following previous warnings to identify and manage the risks involved, maintain the equipment, and put a safe system of work in place.”

Laing O’Rourke health and safety director John Green said: “The company would like to express its profound regret and sorrow to the family and friends of Richard Reddish, who tragically died at work in July 2014, and our thoughts remain with them.

“Having entered a guilty plea and accepted responsibility from the outset, we respect the court’s decision.

“No incident such as this should ever occur. We have learnt significant lessons and implemented changes to our operations to continually improve the safety of our working environment.”

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