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Cleethorpes man suffers 'horrific injuries' after drainage pipes fall on him

Anthony Pennell was working on a construction site as a groundworker when the catastrophic accident took place - he suffered multiple broken bones and long-term health effects as a result

Two construction companies including one from Brigg have been fined £120,000 after a Cleethorpes man suffered "horrific injuries" when heavy drainage pipes which weighed 160kg each fell on him in a catastrophic accident.

Anthony Pennell, who was 32 at the time, was rushed to hospital having sustained multiple fractures to both sides of his pelvis, a fractured vertebrae and a bleed on the spine following the incident, which happened on a construction site in Fradley Park, Lichfield in September 2019.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) enforcement lawyer Nathan Cook told Telford Magistrates' Court how a load of pipes had been suspended on the forks of a telehandler while being moved to a different part of the site, and fell on top of Mr Pennell as he tried to re-position a dangling skid.

The employee of R O Donnell Plant & Civil Ltd spent nine days in hospital before he was discharged to his home in Cleethorpes.

He said: “I had to sleep downstairs for about five months after the accident and I could only use the downstairs toilet. I had a lot of help from my partner Zoe who was allowed a period of time off work which lasted for the first 14 days after I came home.

“She helped me with washing and changing my clothes. She brought everything that I needed to me because I could only mobilise with difficulty and using two crutches and therefore, I couldn’t carry anything.”

Four years on from the accident, and Mr Pennell, now 37, has been unable to resume his job as a groundworker, and is only able to work as a landscaper, which pays less.

“I continue to have pain in my right leg,” he said. “I am no longer as strong as I was and can no longer carry out heavy manual activities.

“I will always be at a disadvantage in the labour market, and cannot see how I could get a job again where I would earn the money that I was earning as a groundworker.”

Following an investigation by HSE, it was found that both Mr Pennell’s employer and the principal contractor (Readie Construction Ltd) failed to ensure that the operation was properly planned, appropriately supervised, and carried out in a safe manner.

The investigation also highlighted issues relating to the level of knowledge and experience of those involved in the lifting operations, and in the companies’ overall management and coordination of the telehandler usage between contractors.

R O Donnell Plant & Civil Ltd, of New Road, Worlaby, Brigg, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty to breaching 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,784.

Readie Construction Ltd, of Falcon Business Centre, Ashton Road, Romford, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,784.

HSE inspector Will Gretton said: “This horrific incident could easily have been avoided had the work been properly planned and suitable control measures implemented to properly secure and safely transport the load.

“This case should remind all on construction sites and wider industry that all lifting operations must be properly planned by a competent person, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner to ensure the health and safety of those involved or affected by the work.”

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