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Firm fined £35,000 over serious injury to employee

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A CONSTRUCTION firm has been fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 costs after a dumper-truck overturned – leaving an employee with serious injuries.

Picture: HEALTH AND SAFETY INSPECTORATE (26865044)

Martyn Blandin and Richard de la Haye, managing directors of BRB Site Excavation and Groundworks Limited, appeared in the Royal Court yesterday after the business pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety laws.

Crown Advocate Chris Baglin, prosecuting, said that on 6 July last year employees arrived at the former Samarès Nurseries site to dig a trench for a communication cable, using an excavator and an open-top dumper truck.

However, an employee who had been trained to use the truck failed to turn up for work.

Instead, Leonardo Pereira, a labourer who had started work with the firm only three days earlier, received a short lesson from a company foreman and work began. Proper training to use such a dumper truck lasts up to three days, the court heard.

Mr Pereira then drove the dumper truck up onto a pile of spoil but noticed the vehicle begin to slip. The court heard he tried to reverse the vehicle but it tipped over, rolling down the pile and through a wooden boundary fence.

Although Mr Pereira tried to jump clear of the vehicle, he sustained serious injuries and was cared for by neighbours and other workers until paramedics arrived.

According to Advocate Baglin, he sustained three broken ribs, two fractured vertebrae, a deep cut to his chin along with a black eye and bruising.

He spent six days in hospital and is still receiving rehabilitation treatment from an occupational therapist.

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Advocate Baglin added that there had been a ‘medium risk of death or life-changing injury’.

The Crown moved for a £50,000 fine along with £5,000 in costs.

However, Advocate Debbie Corbel, defending, said there was no justification for arriving at such a figure.

‘A guilty plea was entered at the first available opportunity and the company has no prior record of health and safety infractions,’ she said.

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‘To provide some context, it has been 25 years since they started carrying out such high-risk work and that is commendable.

‘This is not a case where a company has demonstrated a complete disregard for the law. They did have a health and safety policy and method statement although they did not have one for this specific task and it is recognised that it was deficient in that way.’

Advocate Corbel added that the company had now reviewed all of its health and safety policies and would be spending £65,000 on health and safety services over the next two years.

Lieutenant-Bailiff Anthony Olsen, presiding, said the work should never have gone ahead when it was realised a qualified operator was not available.

‘The course for driving a dumper truck lasts between one to three days but this man was given a five-to-ten minute lesson from someone who was not qualified to instruct someone how to drive the vehicle or even drive the vehicle himself,’ he said.

He added: ‘Your conduct following the accident had been exemplary and you should be commended for that but we are not able to overlook the serious accident and the high risk of serious injury and death.’

The business was fined £35,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Jurats Charles Blampied and Elizabeth Dulake were also sitting.

Ed Taylor

By Ed Taylor
Journalist

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