Bouygues and Laing O’Rourke under investigation over falling masonry block and gas explosion

The industry’s poor safety record was again highlighted this week after two site workers lost their lives in just one week in separate incidents on UK sites.

An agency worker was killed on Bouygues’ Broomfield hospital site in Chelmsford after a gust of wind sent a crane spinning out of control. Eyewitnesses said a large block of masonry fell from the crane crushing a man below, who was later pronounced dead at the scene. Police have handed the investigation over to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), reports Building magazine.

Adam Johnston, a plumber employed by Crown House Data Solutions – a subsidiary of Laing O’Rourke – was killed by an exploding gas cylinder at a site in Hertfordshire, near Welwyn Garden City. The aragonite gas cylinder ruptured and exploded shortly after it was delivered on November 5th.

Another two men were also seriously injured, while four others were treated in hospital and later discharged. The police and the HSE are investigating the case, reports Construction News.

In related news, the new president of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has pledged to work with the construction industry to improve safety standards among SMEs and transient workers, reports Building.

Natasha Freeman is the first IOSH president with a construction background since 2005, having been employed as a health and safety director at Birmingham-based Phoenix Beard. Unions and safety groups applauded the appointment, particularly in light of the 72 deaths reported in construction in 2007/2008, the highest of any industry group.