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Building firm fined after employee struck by digger

A building company has been prosecuted after one of its employees broke his back when he was hit by the bucket of a digger.

What happened?

RMC Building and Civil Engineering Ltd had been hired to install fencing around Longleat Estate in Warminster.

One of the three employees carrying out the work, Peter McGrellis, was holding one of the wooden fence posts whist the operator of the digger rested the bucket on top of the post and applied downward pressure to it.

As he was doing so the post split, which caused the bucket to slip and hit the 48-year-old on the shoulder, knocking him to the ground. He sustained serious injuries including a broken back, and was in hospital for over a week.

An investigation into the incident found that the firm had failed to plan, manage and monitor the erection of the fence. The method statement, prepared by the firm for the task, stated that a piece of equipment called a post driver was going to be used to drive the posts into the ground but that the digger may be used to position the posts. However, the post driver didn’t arrive until after the incident happened.

What was the outcome?

RMC Building & Civil Engineering Ltd, pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay costs of £1,117.

HSE Inspector, Ian Whittles, said:

“The use of excavator vehicles in such a manner is dangerous and is
known to cause injury. The serious failure of RMC Building &
Civil Engineering in not managing this job properly led to
this avoidable incident and unfortunately
Mr McGrellis suffered as a result.

“Workers have a right to expect that the equipment they use is
appropriate for the task – on this occasion the equipment
used was clearly not suitable for the job.

“Anyone in control of construction projects must ensure the work
is properly planned and thoroughly risk-assessed
to avoid such incidents.”

If you have been affected by an accident at work, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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