BAM Nuttall fined £2.3m after worker drowns in weir

BAM Nuttall fined
Knostrop Weir where the incident took place in 2027 (Image: Philip Openshaw |

BAM Nuttall has been fined £2.345m after a worker drowned in the River Aire on 30 October 2017.

Gary Webster, 60, and another worker had been on a boat removing debris at the bottom of the weir gates at Knostrop Weir when their boat capsized.

The boat had been pulled into turbulent water caused by the considerable flow over the top of the weir.

Webster was repeatedly pulled under the water and was recovered by a diver 14 minutes later. The other worker managed to swim to safety.

Webster was pronounced dead two days later at Leeds General Infirmary.

Several safety failures

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found BAM Nuttall had several operatives trained and authorised to control the weir gates to slow the water flow. This would have allowed the debris to float away or be reached safely by boat. However, the company failed to carry out this task.

BAM Nuttall Ltd, of Knoll Road, Camberley, Surrey, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £2.345m and ordered to pay £25,770.48 in costs at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on 12 June 2024.

HSE inspector Jayne Towey said: “BAM Nuttall Ltd failed to plan the work. It failed to carry out any assessment of the risks involved with the task. It failed to have any regard to the recognised hierarchy of controls to reduce the risk associated with removing debris from the water. And it failed to ensure suitable safety measures were in place and to put in place a safe system of work.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.”

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