Firm fined over Swindon sewer pipe workman's death

Builder Repairing Sewerage Pipe On Site Image copyright Thinkstock

A construction company has been fined over the death of a workman killed while laying sewer pipes in Swindon.

Fredric March, 52, from Croydon, died after being hit by a piece of flying timber in June 2011.

Cappagh Contractors Construction, based in Wimbledon, pleaded guilty at Swindon Crown Court to breaching health and safety rules.

The company was fined £130,000 over the death, which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said was avoidable.

The court heard that Mr March was one of three workmen working at a site in Galton Way, Swindon when a piece of timber, used as a cushion on the ends of iron pipes being pushed in place by an excavator, snapped.

He was critically injured and he died six week later.

'Tragic loss of life'

The court was told the workmen had been using an excavator bucket to push sections of pipe into place, and were using timbers to allow the digger to work around a strut that was causing an obstruction.

The men had not been given any guidance or told of alternative ways to carry out their work, and had been allowed to come up with their own method, the court heard.

Sue Adsett, from the HSE, which investigated the incident, said: "This tragic loss of life could have been avoided if Cappagh had taken proper measures before the work started and planned the task properly.

"Pipe-laying companies must have safe systems of work and ensure their workers don't have to improvise safety measures.

"Employers have a duty to carry out thorough risk assessments and provide safe ways of working.

"Including the workforce in designing safe methods also makes it less likely that they will improvise when problems arise."

Cappagh was also ordered to pay £70,000 in costs.

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