Construction firm fined after death of a child who entered site

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.

The child, who went missing from his home, was found the next morning by workers at the construction site.

The construction site was a new-build housing development next to an existing housing estate and adjacent to busy pedestrian footpaths and roads. The Health and Safety Executive (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.

An investigation by HSE found that the child 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.

The firm 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.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Paul Yeadon said: "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.”

The HSE has published guidance for construction firms on keeping their site secure to protect the public. Securing the site will also minimise the risk of theft from sites.

See the guidance here.

Tags (Specialism/Topics)

Health and Safety