A construction firm has been fined and a bulldozer operator sentenced after Mihai Hondru, aged 39, was run over and killed whilst working on a project to widen the M25.
Mr Hondru was employed to direct lorries to the correct positions on the embankment so that they could tip their soil loads. Stephen Blackmore, operating the bulldozer, was supposed to then level the tipped soil with the bulldozer. As Mr Hondru was helping a lorry manoeuvre, he was struck by the reversing bulldozer.
As a result of the collision which occurred in 2010, Mr Hondru suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.
Following the incident, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection found that having carried out a risk assessment, J McArdle – the construction firm involved – had implemented a one-way system to minimise risks to pedestrians. However, when the collision occurred, ground conditions had changed which meant the lorries had to reverse into position but inadequate safety measures were put into place to protect workers near the reversing bulldozer.
It was also found that Mr Blackmore did not take sufficient account of Mihai Hondru's presence in his immediate vicinity, and assumed that Mr Hondru would move out of the way of the reversing bulldozer.
As a result of the prosecution, J McArdle Contracts Ltd, which is now in liquidation, was given a fine of £2,000 after being found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. However, the judge at Chelmsford Crown Court said that if the company had still been trading, the fine would have been £200,000.
In a separate hearing, Stephen Blackmore was found guilty of breaching the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations SI 2007/320 and was given a six month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay costs of £2,500.
HSE inspector Sandy Carmichael said, “Mihai Hondru’s death was a needless tragedy, all the more so because it was preventable. Safe operation of heavy plant, including bulldozers, means continuously checking that pedestrians are clear of moving vehicles. What had seemed like a small change in the task was really very significant. Construction work needs good planning – and good planning includes thorough risk assessment.”
“Any modification to the plan means the risks need to be re-considered very carefully. Re-assessing risk when circumstances change is crucial, as this tragic incident clearly shows. Mr Hondru’s death could have easily been avoided if the transport operations had been properly managed and there had been good vigilance by everyone involved.”