Site engineer crushed to death by excavator

A demolition and site remediation specialist has been fined £133,330 after an employee was crushed to death during site preparation work on a new housing development.

James Rourke lost his life after being struck and run over by an excavator at Sarazen Gardens, Brampton on 18 November 2019.

The 22-year-old site engineer had been attaching ‘warning’ work signs to fencing around the site when he was hit by the vehicle.

Rourke, from Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex, had only joined his employer, Materials Movement Limited, months before after graduating from the University of Birmingham with a degree in geology in the summer of 2019.

The firm had been hired to undertake ground clearance works at Sarazens Gardens in preparation for the building of new houses.

An HSE investigation found Materials Movement Limited had failed to plan and manage the work. The company failed to properly supervise the work that Rourke and the excavator driver were undertaking to ensure it was safe. The Baldock firm also failed to ensure the work was planned and managed to eliminate any chance of Rourke working near the excavator.

His mother, Clare, said in her victim personal statement: “The sunshine has been taken from our lives and the dark gap is immense.

“Our profound loss is ever present; James is always missing. Missing from family events, Christmas, birthdays, holidays. Unknown to newborn family members. Unknown to new friends.

“Our house has a bedroom with no owner. Possessions we cannot bear to touch, photographs we cannot look at.

“We were an even family of six, now an odd family of five – incomplete, unbalanced.”

Materials Movement Limited, of Baldock, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations and was fined £133,330 and ordered to pay £8,500 in costs at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.

HSE inspector Martin Paren said: “This tragic incident led to the avoidable death of a young man.  This death could have easily been prevented if his employer had properly planned, instructed, and supervised the work.

“Our thoughts today are with the family of James, who should have been protected from such harm at work – because of the failings of Materials Movement Ltd he was not.”

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