‘Very senior’ BAA manager called in after accident kills one Laing O’Rourke worker and seriously injures another

A senior BAA manager is to review safety procedures on the Heathrow Terminal 5 site after one worker was killed and another critically injured last week.

Mathew Gilbert, a Laing O’Rourke worker, was killed last Wednesday when a concrete section he was working on fell from a height of 17 m. Parminder Singh, his co-worker, was seriously injured and is being treated in hospital.

The area where the men were working, a multistorey car park at the western end of the site, has been closed while police and the Health and Safety Executive investigate the incident. It is understood that this is likely to take a number of weeks.

The entire site was closed last Thursday as a mark of respect to the two men, but has since reopened. A topping-out ceremony that was to have been held on Wednesday, attended by Alistair Darling, the transport secretary, has been postponed.

A source at BAA said the organisation had brought in “a very senior member of management” from outside the T5 team to carry out an investigation into the incident. The company is reviewing all work areas similar to that where the accident took place.

BAA and Laing O’Rourke are carrying out independent investigations into the accident.

The HSE is currently arranging for equipment at the site to be removed for forensic examination at its laboratory. The platform the men were working on will be examined by an inspector while in situ, but may be removed at a later date.

An HSE spokesperson said: “We’ll have a better understanding of what caused the incident over the next couple of weeks. We’ll need to ascertain if there has been a breach of safety regulations. Obviously, if there has been, there could be a prosecution.”

Tony Douglas, the managing director of T5, expressed his regret at the incident.

He said: “My thoughts are with the families and friends of Mathew and Parminder, and I wish Parminder a full recovery. I am profoundly saddened that a life has been lost in the construction of T5.”

He added: “I am determined to find the exact cause of the accident and T5 will do everything possible to help the HSE in its investigation. Everyone at T5 must build strength from this tragedy and remain focused on safety.”

The death is the first to be suffered during the construction of the terminal. The aim was intended to set a new standard of excellence for health and safety on a major project, and it had achieved 2 million man hours without a reportable accident.