Worker killed operating tarmac cutter

29/04/2013
Highways Reporters

A Portishead plant hire company has been fined £100,000 after a worker was killed while operating a tarmac cutter in Box, Wiltshire.

Stuart Guard died after becoming entangled in the cutting wheel of a machine designed to remove the top layers of tarmac on roads.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) told Swindon Crown Court on Friday (26 April) that Stuart Guard, 28, from Portishead, was sent by Direct Plant Services (trading as South and West Highways Trenching) to a site in Box to prepare trenches for new gas pipes.

On 30 July 2009, Guard was driving a trenching machine with a top cutter attachment. After completing the trench he got down from the cab of the machine while the cutting wheel was still raised and rotating. He became entangled in the wheel, suffering fatal injuries.

The court heard a safety switch under the operator’s seat to stop the engine and the cutting wheel when the seat was vacated had been deliberately disabled. HSE also found the safety switches on all three top cutters owned by the firm had been bypassed.

The HSE investigation found that it was common practice for trench machine operators to check and change the picks during and at the end of each job. Although the firm recognised checking the picks was a two-man job, it routinely hired out the top cutter with only one worker. Checking the picks by a sole operator was quicker if the worker could leave his seat and observe the slowly rotating raised wheel.

South and West Highways Trenching, of Old Mill Road, Portishead, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and three breaches of Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 in relation to the incident. The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £56,890 in costs.

Speaking after the prosecution, HSE inspector Helena Tinton said: "South and West Highways Trenching paid scant regard to the welfare of its employees and took dangerous shortcuts in its attitude toward safety. The company’s safety failings had disastrous consequences.

"The law clearly states that employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety of their employees, which includes ensuring machinery and systems of work are safe.

"The top cutter is a powerful machine, designed to cut through tarmac. They are fitted with safety switches for a very good reason – to prevent operators getting too close to rotating cutting wheels. Sending any of the three company machines to sites with one operator and with the safety switches deliberately bypassed puts workers at risk of serious injury or death while trying to check the picks.”

By Alec Peachey
Highways jobs

Surface Water Engineer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £35350 per annum
At Essex County Council, we're passionate about helping deliver economic growth, the best starts in life and the chance to age well for people in the England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recruiter: Essex County Council

Highways Operations Manager

Swindon Borough Council
Salary up to £41,494 p.a.
In this key role, you will plan, organise, co-ordinate and control the workforce Swindon, Wiltshire
Recruiter: Swindon Borough Council

Senior Engineer (Highways Maintenance Design)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636
Are you looking for an opportunity to work as a Senior Engineer, whilst still being able to develop your career and have a good work-life balance? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Projects Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£33,153 - £35,755
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire and... Cambridgeshire
Recruiter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Senior Heating Engineer

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
Up to £48,692 per annum
Looking for a Senior Heating Engineer who will work as part of one of the small professional teams. London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Senior Traffic Management and Parking Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
£34,788 to £42,683
Are your skills and experiences suited to a traffic and parking engineer position? Is project work something you enjoy doing? Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Lead Practitioner (Infrastructure)

Newark & Sherwood District Council
£33,799 to £35,934 per annum
Newark and Sherwood is looking to recruit to its newly created post of Lead Practitioner for Infrastructure. Newark, Nottinghamshire
Recruiter: Newark & Sherwood District Council

Senior Parking Manager

Brent Council
£55,638 - £58,779 p.a. inc.
As Senior Parking Manager, you will be responsible for the effective management of the Council’s Parking Services contract Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Highways Inspector

Hackney London Borough Council
£28,752 - £32,577
We are seeking an experienced Highways Inspector to join the Highways Team. Hackney, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hackney London Borough Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata. (£11.50 per hour)
A school crossing patrol officer is responsible for assisting children to cross the road safely on their way to and from school. Brent, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Assistant Director - Environment

Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council
£82k per annum
Our Assistant Director – Environment will ensure clean, safe and attractive communities. Redcar, North Yorkshire
Recruiter: Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council

Traffic Engineering Team Leader

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,782 - £42,683
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Network Management Team Telford, Shropshire
Recruiter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Street Lighting Client Officer

Enfield London Borough Council
£37,842 – £40,728
As a Street Lighting Client Officer, you will assist the Streetlighting Client Manager in managing the Council’s Street lighting Service Provider Enfield (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Enfield London Borough Council

Pest Control Officer

Brent Council
£26,745 - £28,725 p.a. inc.
Brent Council's Pest Control and Hygiene service continues to see a growing demand in its pest control services. Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

PCN Appeals Officer

Brent Council
£26,745 - £30,711 p.a. inc.
We are looking for an experienced parking professional to join the Notice Processing Team Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Brent Council

Citizen & Consumer Protection Team Manager - Trading Standards

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Band H, SCP 38-43 (£40,760 - £45,591 per annum) (£21.13 - £23.63 per hour)
We have an exciting opportunity to recruit to the position of Citizen & Consumer Protection Team Manager Sandwell, West Midlands
Recruiter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Key Route Network Manager

Liverpool City Region
£63,753 - £71,747
An exciting new opportunity has arisen within the Integrated Transport Directorate of the LCR Combined Authority Liverpool, Merseyside
Recruiter: Liverpool City Region

Community and Environmental Support Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£19,554 - £21,166
Community and Environmental Support Officers have one of two main focuses; Community Safety or Environmental. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Assistant Director

Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council
£92,826 - £111,231
This is an ideal opportunity for an expert waste management professional to make a real impact and to lead the service to outstanding. Fulham, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council

Partnership Director (Fixed Term for 2 years)

Tactran
£79,165 - £83,020
An exciting opportunity has arisen for the post of Partnership Director for the Tayside & Central Scotland Transport Partnership (Tactran). Perth, Perth and Kinross
Recruiter: Tactran

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

Valuing our roads: What is a network worth?

Also inside:

Traffex review 

Diary of a flood.

Beautiful roads

Live Labs exclusive briefing 

View the latest issue

Latest Video