£146k fine for company after joiner crushed to death by 20-tonne excavator

A construction company has been fined £146k after a joiner was crushed and killed by a 20-tonne excavator.

The employee had been hired by Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd to assist with the construction of a concrete overflow weir structure at Monks Pond, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire. The man was with colleagues on a road above the work area waiting for the excavator to remove sand from trench boxes when it rotated clockwise and crushed him.

Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard that the Principal Contractor, Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd, had hired in steel fixers and joiners to undertake the work before tragedy struck on 5 September 2017.

What went wrong?

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been adequately planned, and no instruction had been given to the digger operator, or to pedestrians who were working in the area. The risks associated with the work had not been adequately assessed either, and there was no segregation of pedestrians and plant in this area of the site.

The company had not appointed a banksman to ensure the safety of pedestrians while the vehicle was in operation and there was also nobody to oversee this element of the work to ensure it was carried out safely.

Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd of Barracks Road, Sandy Lane Industrial Estate, Stourport-on-Severn, DY13 9QB, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 27(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and were fined £146,000  and ordered to pay costs of £4,621.90. In September 2022, the company appointed liquidators.

“This was a tragic incident that was easily preventable.  Those in control of work have a responsibility to organise their sites and devise safe methods of working, in relation to vehicles and pedestrians, and ensure they are implemented.
Construction site vehicle incidents can and should be prevented by the effective management of transport operations throughout the construction process."

How Zonr can help avoid these situations

Every year far too many incidents like the one above occur when they could be prevented. 

Zonr’s Plant Proximity Solution is designed to help stop tragic incidents like this by creating a virtual exclusion zone around plant and machinery. It warns workers and plant operators if that red-zone is entered.

The exclusion zone is created through signals sent between sensors – which can be placed anywhere within a site – and a control unit. The control unit alerts the operator to any incursion, and also lets workers themselves know when they have entered an unsafe zone through a sounded alarm on a wearable device.

This way, the workers and machinery can operate in the same spaces but in a safer, and more regulated space, resulting in far less opportunity to come into contact with each other. 

Exclusion zones can easily be reconfigured by moving the position of sensors. All setup is completed through a mobile app, and incursion data is easily viewed in real-time via a web-based portal – with data transmitted to the cloud via a 5G connection.

If you want to know more about how Zonr can help keep your workers safe on site, get in touch for free, no-obligation demo via the button below.


Digger showing Zonr radius
  1. News Source: The Health and Safety Executive
  2. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. We prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise.
  3. More information about the legislation referred to in this case is available.
  4. Further details on the latest HSE news releases is available.