Firms fined after wood panel falls on worker

John Doyle and Exterior International ordered to pay total of US $663,000

UK: Two construction companies have been fined at the Old Bailey following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into a fatal accident on a London building site.

John Doyle Construction of Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire and Exterior International of London, were fined a total of US $663,000 (£350,000) after pleading guilty to breaching safety standards that led to the accident at the Albion Riverside Development in Battersea in August 2002.

Jack Tangney, a 29-year-old from New Zealand, died when a large timber panel called a ‘shutter’, fell to the ground while it was being lifted to the ninth floor of a tower block, and struck him.

John Doyle Construction, Mr Tangey’s employer, was fined $378,000 for contravening section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and $94,000 for contravening section 3(1) of the same Act, while Exterior International was fined $189,000 for contravening section 3(1).

Both clauses relate to employers ensuring that all staff are not exposed to any health and safety risks at the workplace.

Exterior International was the main contractor on the site, while John Doyle Construction was a subcontractor.

Both firms pleaded guilty to the charges at City Magistrates’ Court in April this year.

Legal costs are to be agreed at a further hearing.

“Anyone involved in lifting operations on building sites should ensure they are properly planned and appropriately supervised,” said Emma Davies, construction inspector, HSE.

“The risk of serious injury, or worse from badly planned lifting operations is well known in the industry; as are the measures needed to manage them. Had these construction companies carried out an appropriate risk assessment, Mr Tangney would be alive today. This avoidable incident is an example of how badly things can go wrong when lifting operations are not planned or supervised properly.”

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