Balfour Beatty and Multibuilt plead guilty to safety breaches after 44-tonne machine falls across busy road

Balfour Beatty and Multibuilt were fined £45,000 yesterday after pleading guilty to breaching health and safety laws at Hull Crown Court.

The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted the two firms after an incident in Hull in December 2007 when a 44 tonne pilling machine fell over, rolled across a road during rush hour and crushed a wall, closing the road for several hours.

The HSE inspector said that it was “nothing short of a miracle that no one was killed or seriously injured.”

An investigation found that Multibuild, the main contractor, was responsible for providing a stone platform for the machine to work from, but had failed to design or install it correctly.

Balfour Beatty as a specialist sub-contractor had the responsibility for safely carrying out the work.

Multibuild was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £18,687 costs, while Balfour was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £17,676 in costs.

After the hearing HSE inspector Dave Redman said:

“This incident could easily have resulted in disaster, and it is nothing short of a miracle that no one was killed or seriously injured given it occurred during the peak of the evening rush hour.

“It is every company’s responsibility to ensure that employees and members of the public are not exposed to danger from heavy construction machinery.

“There is extensive guidance governing safe working in this sector, and we hope today’s prosecution serves to remind people of their duties so that we don’t witness an incident of this kind again.”