Hydraulic Land Reclamation Fatality

A Surrey company has been sentenced for safety failings after a contractor was crushed to death at the London Gateway Port construction site in Essex.

An investigation by Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the dredging company that controlled operations at the site, failed to plan and execute a safe recovery of a bulldozer that was bogged down in water-logged silt that was being piped ashore by a dredger. The deceased had left the cab of the bulldozer and was standing on a platform step while the excavator reversed towards him in order for him to hook a steel tow rope from the bulldozer onto a tooth of the excavator’s bucket. The court was told that as the excavator driver turned the vehicle so the arm and bucket was towards the rear of the bulldozer, the deceased was seemingly struck by the bucket. He was found lying partially submerged in water behind the bulldozer. He died at the scene as a result of extensive crush injuries to his chest and upper torso.

HSE found the company had failed to draw up safe working procedures for the recovery of bogged down vehicles – despite the entirely foreseeable risk that this type of incident would occur.

Mobile phones were the sole means of communicating incidents and, in the absence of instruction and training, drivers had developed ad hoc methods of recovery. This required some drivers to leave the safety of their cabs, which brought them into contact with other heavy machinery.

After the hearing, the HSE inspector said: “Hydraulic land reclamation operations are high risk operations by their very nature. However, despite identifying the entirely foreseeable risk of heavy machinery becoming bogged, Dredging International failed to undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.” “Effective segregation of pedestrians and workplace transport, particularly heavy machinery, is a fundamental health and safety requirement, especially in the construction sector. This tragic death could have been prevented if a safe system of recovery had been put in place and adhered to.”

Here is the HSE press release on the matter.

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