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10Feb94 UK: HSE STUDIES BARRIERS AFTER TRUCK PLUNGE.

Safety inspectors are investigating whether the barriers around a 23 m deep shaft were adequate after last week's dump truck plunge at Heathrow Airport which left the driver with a fractured skull.The 15 tonne truck, loaded with earth from the newly excavated shaft, came off a site road above the shaft and crashed through the safety barrier.Kevin Lavelle, 32, was trapped in the truck for two hours and is now recovering in the Royal Free Hospital in north London.On Tuesday a hospital spokesman said his condition was improving, although he was too ill to be interviewed by HSE investigators.Six subcontractors working at the bottom of the 20 m wide shaft fled to safety when they saw the six-axle truck falling towards them.HSE inspector Mike Harrison said: 'There are a number of possible explanations. We are going through them at the moment.'But attention has focused on whether the safety barriers at the top of the shaft were adequate.The Transport and General Workers Union's district officer, Tom Blennerhassett, said: 'My impression was that there should have been at least one segment around the top of the shaft to bring it above ground level.'The shaft, part of the Heathrow Express works, was being constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine working for Taylor Woodrow Management.Mr Lavelle was employed by subcontractor Lynch Plant Hire. Client BAA is also investigating the incident. CONSTRUCTION NEWS