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Firm fined after building site death

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By Euan Maxwell
Annan and Eskdale
Firm fined after building site death

AN ENGINEERING and groundworks contractor has been fined over £230,000 after an HGV driver was killed at an Annan building site three years ago.

Gary Dobinson was hit by the mast of a piling rig as it was being lowered in preparation for its transportation from the Hallmeadow residential development, off Elm Road, on January 21, 2021.

The 52-year-old – who was employed by another company – had been at the site in Annan to collect and transport the piling rig, which was owned by Nottinghamshire company Van Elle Limited, in his vehicle.

The mast of the rig collapsed during a loading operation which struck Mr Dobinson.

Site workers and the emergency services raced to the scene to try to help him, but Mr Dobinson died from his injuries.

An investigation by Police Scotland and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that “insufficient measures” had been taken to maintain the piling rig in a safe condition prior to the incident.

The report noted that the securing lug for one of the mast’s retaining pins was badly corroded and failed. This allowed the pin to displace and caused the mast to topple.

HSE inspector James Caren said: “All work equipment should be subject to suitable inspection and maintenance to ensure that it can be used without risk to the safety of those using it and those in the vicinity.

“Construction plant are exposed to harsh conditions and require effective inspection and maintenance regimes to avoid safety defects developing.

“The company should have had robust measures in place to maintain the piling rig so that it was structurally sound and could be operated safely.”

At Dumfries Sheriff Court last week, Mr Peter Gray KC, on behalf of Van Elle Limited, pleaded guilty to the charge.

Sheriff Colm Dempsey fined Van Elle Limited a total of £233,000. This was discounted from £350,000 due to the early guilty plea.

After the case was finished, a Van Elle spokesman stated the company extended their “heartfelt condolences” to Mr Dobinson’s family and friends and that they “deeply regrets the matters which came before the court”.

The spokesman said: “It was recognised by the court that Van Elle had in place a regime of maintenance and inspection for the machinery in question and it had undergone servicing and statutory testing, so there was no advance warning of its failure.

“Following this tragic incident we quickly took steps to review our procedures and share lessons learned across the industry.

“We remain committed to ensuring the health and safety of everyone who works with us, and we are doing our best to prevent any similar incidents happening again.”

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