Utility company fined for worker death

09/12/2014
Highways Reporters

Thames Water has been fined £300,000 after employee Raymond Holmes was killed by a reversing excavator at a treatment works in Walthamstow.

The 59-year-old, of Rayleigh, sustained multiple crush injuries in the fatal incident at the utility company’s Coppermill Lane site on 30 April 2010, and died at the scene.

He was undertaking profiling work as part of team cleaning a large sand filter bed, a process that involved the use of several items of large mobile plant machinery, including the excavator that struck him.

Thames Water was sentenced on 8 December 2014 after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified serious failings with the way the machines and workers were allowed to operate.

Southwark Crown Court heard that Mr Holmes, an employee of Thames Water Utilities Limited (TWUL) for more than 30 years, was using laser levelling equipment to measure the depth of the sand bed on foot.

He was struck by an excavator working close by after the driver reversed without seeing him or realising he was there.

HSE established that although TWUL recognised the need for control measures to mitigate the risk of a collision between plant and workers, the company failed to implement sufficient measures on the day. Those working in the beds, including Mr Holmes, had also received no formal instruction or supervision to ensure they understood the safe systems of work. HSE also found that nobody was required to wear hi-visibility clothing, and that the excavator involved was not equipped with effective rear view mirrors or any form of reversing aid or alarm.

The court was told that had the work been better planned and managed, with effective control measures in place, Mr Holmes’ death could have been avoided.

Thames Water Utilities Limited, of Clearwater Court, Vastern Road, Reading, was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay a further £61,229 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Nick Patience commented: “Raymond Holmes sadly lost his life because basic safety standards were not in place to protect him and other workers.

“Working alongside mobile plant can be extremely dangerous, and it is vital that effective control measures are in place at all times to ensure collisions are avoided.

“Although Thames Water had identified the potential risks, the company failed to ensure the necessary precautions and safe systems of work were in place, understood by all and monitored on that fateful day.”

Laura Wyer, Raymond’s daughter, speaking on behalf of the family, said: “When we heard the news that my father had been killed it was not only completely devastating, but incomprehensible that he was killed at work. We had never thought his job was in any way dangerous and couldn’t understand how it was allowed to happen. If only a few simple procedures had been implemented then he would still be here today.

“My father was a very jolly, easy going man who had a huge amount of time for both myself and my mum, and also my husband Robert, who he saw as the son he never had. He was only a few years from retiring and both he and my Mum were already looking forward to the time they would have together.

“If just a little more thought and time is taken by employers then workers would not need to lose their lives for simply doing their job. Working in a safe and healthy environment should be a right – it must never be referred to as a burden on an employer to ensure this.”
Highways jobs

Asset Information Definitive Map Officer

£22,183 - £32,234
An exciting opportunity has arisen for an enthusiastic person to join Cambridgeshire County Council’s Definitive Map Team. Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Local Highway Officer

£22,183 - £32,234
The role is to identify maintenance repairs and improvements and to work with Community Groups and Partners, dealing with Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Drainage Engineer & Senior Drainage Engineer

£32,234 - £35,745 (Engineer), £35,745 - £39,880 (Senior Engineer)
Lincolnshire County Council has exciting opportunities for a Drainage Engineer (x1) and Senior Drainage Engineer Lincolnshire
Recruiter: Lincolnshire County Council

Principal Transport Planner

£49,827 - £52,866 p.a. inc.
An exciting opportunity to help shape transport in the borough has arisen. Brent’s population is growing and with this comes increased pressure on... Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Travel Training Service Support Officer

£18029 - £19329 per annum
Please note this is a fixed term contract for 12 months, starting in January. The role is part time for 22.2 hours (3 days) per week. Therefore the England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) Director

£96,192 - £108,213 per annum
This is a highly visible, senior role, working with local government chief officers as well as sub-regional and regional organisations.  London (Greater)
Recruiter: South London Waste Partnership

Grounds Maintenance Operative

£19,312 - £20,493 per annum
This position is Seasonal/Fixed Term from 22 March to 29 October 2021. Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Head of Highways

£53,984 - £63,449
You will have a proven track record of success in delivering effective highway services and substantial capital programmes as... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Vehicle Technician x2

£24,982 - £29,577 per annum
These positions are fixed term contracts for 12 months with the prospect of a permanent role once the Class C Driving Licence has been obtained.  Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Commercial Vehicle Technician

£30,000 per annum
We are seeking a fully trained HGV technician to work as part of the team who maintain the Council's fleet to the highest standards.  Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Clerk of Works

£32,234 - £35,745
We are looking for someone who... Warrington, Cheshire
Recruiter: Warrington Borough Council

Executive Director of Place, Economy & Environment – West Northamptonshire Council

Up to £140k
Be part of shaping the future Northamptonshire
Recruiter: North Northamptonshire & West Northamptonshire

Director Public Protection and Licensing

circa £123k
At Westminster, we are passionate about the place and the people who live, work and visit here. City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Westminster City Council

Senior Data Centre Engineer

£41,952
The successful candidate will have a BSc in relevant discipline, or equivalent industry experience. Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Lead Network Engineer

£46,756
We are going through exciting new changes, which require the need for Lead Network engineers who can redesign, architect, document and... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Community Protection Regulatory Officer

£26,112 per annum, rising to £28,785
The successful applicant will provide support to the team’s Environmental Health Officers while also benefitting from their experience and guidance. Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Grounds Maintenance Supervisor

£26,112 per annum, rising to £28,785
The successful candidate will show enthusiasm and a commitment to effectively deliver excellent service to... Chelmsford, Essex
Recruiter: Chelmsford City Council

Principal S106 & CIL Officer (Infrastructure Planning)

£43,860 - £46,839 p.a. inc.
To be successful in this role, you will bring strong S106 & CIL collection experience, be able to... Wembley, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Head of Built Environment

£67,036 - £76,613 per annum
The post holder will deliver the effective strategic improvement, co-ordination and management of the planned... Bradford, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: City of Bradford MDC

Highways Maintenance Engineer

£30,492 - £32,851
We are looking to recruit a suitably qualified and experienced Highway Maintenance Engineer to join our Key Projects Team at... Worcestershire
Recruiter: Worcestershire County Council

Highways Presents

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Also inside:

Big Interview: IHE President Stephen Webb

ADEPT Traffic Managers' Conference

Legal: JV or not JV?

View the latest issue

Latest Video