Construction company fined £600K after death of seven-year-old

A civil engineering firm has been fined £600K for safety breaches after a seven-year-old child became trapped and suffocated on a construction site.

Seven-year-old Conley Thompson went missing from home on the morning of 26 July 2015 and was found the next morning by workers at the construction site at Bank End Road, Worsborough, in South Yorkshire.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Conley had become trapped in a drainage pipe, which had been fixed into the ground in preparation for the installation of fencing posts. Tragically, he had suffocated before being found the next morning when work restarted on site.

Howard Civil Engineering Ltd of Howard House Limewood Approach Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 13(4)(b) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 and to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £600K and ordered to pay £42,952.88 in costs at Sheffield Crown Court today.

The construction site was a new-build housing development next to an existing housing estate and adjacent to busy pedestrian footpaths and roads. HSE found that there was insufficient fencing in place to prevent unauthorised persons from accessing the construction site due to a combination of poor planning, management and monitoring of the site and its perimeter.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said: “Conley should never have been able to be on that site. He should have been kept out.

“The construction industry should be aware of the dangers of construction sites to members of the public and any other unauthorised persons.

“The dangers to children gaining access to construction sites and treating them like a playground is an ongoing problem which must be addressed at all types of sites no matter what their complexity or size.

“The industry must do all it can to ensure children can’t access construction sites and be exposed to the inherent risks they present to prevent further tragedies like this from occurring.”

04 August 2022

What we think

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 requires “the necessary steps are taken to prevent access by unauthorised persons to the construction site.” This means control measure must be put in place to prevent unauthorised access; this could include use of security patrols and CCTV cameras. Other controls could include the installation of viewing panels on hoardings; this would help to reduce the the risk of inquisitive individuals climbing over hoardings and onto site. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a legal duty on Companies to protect persons not in their employment, including visitors, even unwanted visitors or trespassers must be protected from harm when entering a construction site.

How we can help

Wiser Safety can undertake regular Construction Site Safety Inspections which would identify issues and deficiencies in health and safety standards on site. We can also assist with developing inspection regimes and associated health and safety documentation, including Policies, Procedures, Risk Assessments, Method Statements and Safe System of Works.

Contact us now to discuss a workable solution. Please feel free to Call Us on 01732 446503 or Message Us