Carillion fined for death of worker after fall from a height

Published:  26 November, 2012

A major construction company and a concrete structures firm have been sentenced after a worker died following a fall from height at a Swansea building site.

Carillion Construction and Febrey were jointly prosecuted following the death of self-employed father of two, Russell Samuel, at the Meridian Quay apartment development.

Samuel, who was contracted by Febrey to work as a scaffolder at the Swansea site, was dismantling a scaffold ladder access platform ready for the installation of the roof and staircase on the fourth floor.

He suffered multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, when he fell approximately 19 metres, narrowly missing carpenter Raymond Haines, who was working directly below. He was taken to Morriston Hospital but died two days later.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the defendants, Febrey Ltd, had inadequate and ineffective health and safety management arrangements in place and there was little or no communication, information and instruction provided to its workforce.

The management team on site was not adequately trained in health and safety, despite repeated warnings by its health and safety consultants, and this led to persistent and systematic failures to control work at height risks at site.

The failing of its director was also found to have had a direct bearing on the sequence of events that led to the death of Samuel.

Carillion Construction failed to ensure the safety of its employees and those under its control. The company, as principal contractor, was made aware of and had detected many failings in the safety management of Febrey but had failed to gain improvement from Febrey on many occasions.

Carillion Construction pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act, was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay £52,500 in costs.

 

Jason Rowley, Carillon plc Group health & safety director, said: “Firstly, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to Russell Samuel’s family at this difficult time. There is nothing we can possibly say or do that will reduce their loss, but nonetheless we want them to know we are thinking of them. Carillion Construction has cooperated with the Health & Safety Executive throughout its investigation of the accident and we fully accept our share of responsibility for this tragedy.

 “In common with all other major construction companies, Carillion employs smaller subcontractors, who work under our site supervision. Like Carillion, subcontractors are required to comply with all the relevant Health & Safety regulations, as well as our own safety standards. Where we identify Health & Safety performance shortfalls in subcontractors, we take action to bring them up to required standards, and this is what we had been doing with Febrey.  

 “Although we are pleased that the judge recognised that health & safety is taken very seriously at Carillion and that considerable resources are invested in reducing workplace accidents, we accept that on this occasion we failed to take sufficiently robust steps to deal with Febrey Limited with tragic consequences. We have taken action to make sure those mistakes are not repeated.”

Febrey, Bristol, also admitted two breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act. The company, which has since gone into liquidation, was fined a total of £85, although the judge said he would have fined them £250,000 before it became insolvent.

There were recurrent indicators that should have alerted Carillion to Febrey's persistent and systematic failures throughout the whole project. Yet Carillion failed to adequately address Febrey's significant failings. As the principal contractor on site, Carillion had a clear duty to plan, manage and monitor the construction work,

 

"Falls from height are still the biggest killer in the construction industry and this is the tragic reality of what can happen when adequate arrangements are not in place to manage health and safety.

"Mr Samuel's children and family will have to live with the consequences of the defendants' failings for the rest of their lives."

Febrey director, Michael Febrey, pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 37(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act and will be fined at a later date.

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