Firm fined £12,000 for cherry picker bus collision
Published on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 15:30
An HSE inspector described an incident, in which a construction worker fell from a cherry-picker into the path of a moving bus, as an “almost unbelievable” series of events.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard the incident took place on Euston Road in London, in the early hours of 4 March 2011. National construction firm Galliford Try Construction Ltd had been contracted to fix snagging issues at the Renaissance Hotel and Chambers, as part of a £103 million restoration project.
The firm arranged for two workers to remove tape from the outside of an apartment window on the third floor of the building’s residential block. The scaffolding had been removed from the site, so the men accessed the tape by moving a cherry-picker from a compound on Euston Road to another on Midland Road.
Leszek Soltysiak reversed the vehicle out of the compound and on to Euston Road, and raised the operator platform so it could clear a fence. He continued reversing unaware that a double-decker bus had just turned into the road. The cherry-picker had no visible warning lights and the workers weren’t wearing any high-visibility clothing, despite it being dark. Mr Soltysiak’s colleague waved at the bus to signal it to stop, but the bus driver didn’t see the workers or the cherry-picker.
The top of the bus hit the operator platform, which was overhanging in the road, and knocked the jib into a brick gatepost. The collision catapulted Mr Soltysiak from the platform and he fell in front of the moving bus. The bus braked, but he was dragged 15 metres down the road, and was found partially underneath the front nearside of the vehicle. He suffered serious head, arm, pelvis and leg injuries and was unable to return to work for a year owing to his injuries.
HSE inspector Paul Hems explained that Galliford Try Construction had failed to properly plan or supervise the work. He said: “This worker narrowly escaped death after a series of events, which almost seem unbelievable but, in fact, could have proved fatal.
“A 14-metre-long slow-moving machine, not suitable for use on a public highway, was moved against the flow of traffic on to a three-lane road. Both workers were without high-visibility clothing and there were no visible warning lights on the cherry-picker despite it being early morning and still dark, which made it – and the men – effectively invisible to the bus driver.
“The company also failed to provide adequate and relevant information and instruction for their employees.”
Galliford Try Construction appeared in court on 11 April and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £16,460.