Fatality: Costain fined £615,000

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Posted on 23 Jul 2014

Global engineering specialist Costain Limited has been ordered to pay more than £615,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed when a telehandler overturned during construction work.

The deceased was using the vehicle to lift a pallet of tiles to a fourth story roof when the incident happened. He tried to flee the telehandler as it began to topple, but he was unable to move away in time and it landed on top of him, causing fatal crush injuries.

His death was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which found the safety of the vehicle was compromised by limited space and other obstructions in the area where he was required to work.

Costain Limited was prosecuted for failing to provide a safe system of work. It was fined a total of £525,000 and ordered to pay a further £90,577 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and two breaches of Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.


When undertaking a work activity ensure a safety system of work is in place. Part of the employer’s general duty is to provide systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health. Different parts to include when conducting a safe system include: 

  • Safe systems of work must be identified through the risk assessment process. 
  • The methodology and sequence of carrying out the work activity
  • The co-ordination of the different groups of personnel involved
  • How the work will be organised 
  • The work environment general conditions such as constraints due to space, weather and height 
  • Provision of Information, instruction training, and supervision that is required 
  • The layout of plant, equipment and materials used 
  • The provision of alert safety signs such as warnings, notices, and the issue of special instructions where appropriate 
  • The use of permits to work where necessary
  • A contingency plan to deal with foreseeable emergencies 
  • A monitoring system to ensure the system is working safely with inspections at different stages of the work activity.

Doyle Clayton can provide support with ensuring the development and review of suitable and sufficient safe systems of work and risk assessments for the work activities within your company. Please contact Sally Beck for further information.

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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