A construction firm has been fined £800,000 after a man accidentally crushed his brother to death with a dumper truck.
Robert Paul Griffiths’ foot became stuck between the truck’s brake and accelerator as he tried to move a broken-down scissor lift on a service road at Heathrow Airport while working for Laing O’Rourke on October 2 2014.
The truck reversed and crushed Mr Griffiths’ brother Philip, 38, who was standing between the two vehicles. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found neither worker was authorised with the appropriate certificate to use the dumper truck and the operation was not properly overseen or managed.
The construction firm, of Crossways in Dartford, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations. It was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 in costs.
Speaking after sentencing at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, HSE inspector Jack Wilby said: “This incident was a tragedy for all concerned and, as revealed by our investigation, entirely avoidable.”
“These dedicated staff, including Philip and his brother, needed appropriate supervision.
“Had there been appropriate supervision, then better segregation between Philip and these two vehicles could have been established and maintained.
“This case should act as a reminder of the dangers of using workplace transport without proper planning, management or monitoring of the risks involved.”
Mr Griffiths said his brother’s death had “devastated” the whole family and led to the deterioration of his father’s health.
He added: “When I lost Phil, I not only lost my brother, I lost my best friend.
“His passing fundamentally affected my life and devastated my whole family … I can’t help but think if Phil hadn’t been involved in that accident, my dad, who told me he was broken-hearted at losing him, would have battled on longer and may still be here today.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think about Phil and whether anything could have been done differently to avoid the tragedy.
“I now feel I am totally alone and, although I have a small group of friends for support, they can’t replace my family.
“My whole life changed for the worst on October 2 2014 and will never be the same again.”
Damian Bradley, head of employers’ liability at Slater and Gordon, who represented Mr Griffiths, said the “completely avoidable” accident had “deeply affected Mr Griffiths’s family and left them without a much-loved son and brother”.
“It is crucial that employers, especially those using heavy machinery, adhere to health-and-safety regulations to protect their employees.
“We are grateful to the Health and Safety Executive for their investigation and hope today’s sentencing will help our client towards rebuilding his life.”
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