Van Elle fined £233,000 after piling rig fell and killed HGV driver

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A tragic accident resulted in a HGV driver losing his life after a piling rig mast fell when being loaded onto the drivers HGV and killed the 52 year old.

The Nottinghamshire-based engineering and groundworks contractor has been fined £233,000 after the accident at a house build site in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway.

On 21 January 2021, Gary Dobinson, who was employed by another company, visited the Hallmeadow development off Elm Road with his lorry to collect and transfer the piling rig owned by Van Elle Limited.

Tragically, as the mast of the rig was being lowered in preparation for its transportation, it suddenly collapsed and struck Mr Dobinson. Site workers and the emergency services raced to the scene to try to help him, but he sadly 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. Specifically, the securing lug for one of the mast’s retaining pins was badly corroded and failed, allowing the pin to displace, causing the mast to topple.

HSE guidance on maintaining and inspecting plant can be found here: The safe use of vehicles on construction sites: A guide for clients, designers, contractors, managers and workers involved with construction transport – HSG144 (hse.gov.uk)

Van Elle Limited, of Southwell Lane, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £233,000 at Dumfries Sheriff Court on 4 June 2024.

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.”