Van Elle fined £233,000 after piling rig fatality

On 21st January 2021, 52-year old Gary Dobinson, who was employed by another company, visited the Hallmeadow development in the Scottish town of Annan with his lorry to collect and transfer a piling rig owned by Van Elle.

As the mast of the rig was being lowered in preparation for its transportation, it suddenly collapsed and struck Mr Dobinson. Site workers and emergency services raced to the scene to try to help him but he died from his injuries.

An investigation by Police Scotland and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that insufficient measures had been taken to maintain the piling rig in a safe condition prior to the incident. Specifically, the securing lug for one of the mast’s retaining pins was badly corroded and failed, allowing the pin to displace, causing the mast to topple.

Van Elle Limited, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £233,000 at Dumfries Sheriff Court on 4th June 2024.

HSE inspector James Caren said: “All work equipment should be subject to suitable inspection and maintenance to ensure that it can be used without risk to the safety of those using it and those in the vicinity. Construction plant are exposed to harsh conditions and require effective inspection and maintenance regimes to avoid safety defects developing.

“The company should have had robust measures in place to maintain the piling rig so that it was structurally sound and could be operated safely.”

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