One of the country’s biggest construction companies has been fined £700,000 after one of their employees was crushed to death by a dumper truck.
Inverness Sheriff Court heard that the death of 61-year-old John Cameron on BAM Nuttall’s site to build a sub-station at Blackhillock, near Keith, led to industry-wide changes to health and safety rules.
The company admitted failing to make a suitable risk assessment in the task of repair and replacement of equipment on-site and the risk of vehicles and pedestrians coming into contact with each other.
They also failed to provide a system of work that could be carried out safely and segregated people from vehicles.
‘Legs became trapped under the dumper truck’
Fiscal depute Gavin Callaghan told Sheriff Gary Aitken that on the day of the tragedy, on October 28 2016, dumper trucks were shuttling back and forth carrying broken concrete while Mr Cameron was carrying out cutting work with a specialist road saw.
It broke down and unusually there was a replacement on-site which Mr Cameron and colleagues pushed to the work area.
Mr Cameron crouched down and tucked himself in as tight as possible but was not easily visible. The forklift passed without incident. But Mr Cameron’s legs became trapped under the dumper truck and he died a short time later from fatal pelvic injuries, Sheriff Aitken was told.
Mr Callaghan said: “There was a safe place to carry out the work but it was not clearly designated. Mr Cameron was left to his own devices. What he did and where he did it was not safe but that is no criticism of Mr Cameron. No one from BAM challenged him and there had been no risk planning.
“It is not suggested that BAM had a cavalier attitude towards health and safety and it is tragic that an oversight has such terrible consequences.”
‘A highly valued and popular employee’
Murdo MacLeod, QC for BAM Nuttalls, explained that there had been a last-minute design change to the area where Mr Cameron was working and admitted that no arrangements had been made for a risk assessment at such short notice.
“The company recognise that it was unacceptable that he should have been left to his own devices and greater care should have been taken to secure that area,” he said.
“The company has left no stone unturned since the accident and new zonal working systems have been introduced.”
Mr MacLeod added that there is now restricted use of front loading dumper trucks and design changes have been implemented.
“The company want to formally record its sincere regret to the family as Mr Cameron was an experienced, highly valued and popular employee,” counsel added.
Passing sentence, Sheriff Aitken recorded his condolences to family members in court and added: “No one ever thinks that a loved one going to work won’t come home.”
However, he said it was not the court’s function to try to put a value on a person’s life but to punish a company in the only way it can, by a fine.
Following the case, a spokeswoman for BAM Nuttall said: “Firstly, we wish to express our deep regret that Mr Cameron, an employee of BAM Nuttall, was fatally injured while carrying out work for our company. We recognise the terrible impact of the incident and share our condolences with Mr Cameron’s family.
“The health and safety of our staff, contractors, visitors and members of the public is an overriding priority at BAM Nuttall and we are deeply saddened that our failings allowed this incident to occur.
“Health and Safety is a key element of our operation and we endeavour to maintain a high standard throughout our business. The company invests significantly in training and promotes a positive health and safety culture. BAM Nuttall’s philosophy is that work must be done safely or not at all.
“We accept the court’s sentence and regret sincerely that the processes implemented on site at the time of the incident needed improvement.
“BAM Nuttall cooperated fully with the HSE investigation. It was of prime importance to the board of BAM Nuttall that we learned lessons from this incident and took all reasonable actions to prevent anything similar from happening again.
“We have introduced new zonal systems to reduce the risk from people and plant interfacing on site. Our fleet of forward tipping dumpers (FTD) was reduced to zero and their use was removed entirely from our operations.
“Through our trade body, we supported changing the design of FTD to improve visibility and stability. This involved many stakeholders and has led to the adoption of new, safer equipment across the industry.
“The board of BAM Nuttall is committed to investing in the resource required to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in or affected by our operations. It remains our top priority.”