Teenage construction worker crushed to death in manhole

P & R Plant Hire (Lincolnshire) Limited, D. Brown (Building Contractors) Limited, Brent Woods and Darrell Tripp were all fined following the death of Josh Disdel.

In July 2018 Disdel and another worker, both employed by P & R Plant Hire, had been tasked with clearing debris from manholes at the site.

While work was taking place Disdel’s colleague was asked if he could move the works van to allow another vehicle to pass.

He was not aware that Disdel was lying on the road with his head and torso in a manhole, directly in front of the van.

As the vehicle moved forwards one of the wheels entered the top of the manhole crushing Disdel who was then taken to hospital but later died as a result of serious injuries.

An HSE investigation found that neither the principal contractor, D. Brown (Building Contractors) Limited, nor the groundworks subcontractor, P & R Plant Hire had ensured that the work was planned in such a way to ensure that workers were not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Woods, a manager within P & R Plant Hire for approximately 10 years, sent employees to carry out the task without a risk assessment or method statement in place despite having previously produced such information in the past.

In addition, workers had not been trained to work in a road, had not been provided with any equipment to ensure the work was carried out safely and had not been provided with any instruction on any safety measures to be used at site.

Lincoln Crown Court heard that Tripp, a site manager for D. Brown (Building Contractors) Limited with 40 years industry experience , did not carry out a site induction of Disdel and failed to carry out suitable checks to ensure the workers had the relevant training.

Tripp also failed to ensure there was a safe system of work in place and there were adequate control measures.

D. Brown (Building Contractors) Limited of Spalding was found guilty of safety offences and fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,765.92

P & R Plant Hire of Cambridgeshire pleaded guilty to safety breaches and was fined £24,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,264.87.

Woods of Holbeach, Spalding was found guilty of safety breaches and was sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and pay costs of £1200.

Tripp of Deeping St James, Peterborough was also found guilty and was sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered to pay costs of £1200.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Mark Welsh said: “This was a completely avoidable incident, caused by a multitude of failures by both companies and both of the individuals who appeared in court.

“All of the defendants failed to adequately plan the work to identify the risks, failed to ensure that the individuals carrying out the work were trained and competent to do so, and failed to ensure a safe system of work was in place and followed.

“The result was the tragic loss of life of a young man who was looking forward to a bright future.”

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