Company fined £133k after graduate crushed to death

A Hertfordshire company has been fined after a 22-year-old employee was crushed to death by an excavator.

James Rourke died after being struck and run over by the excavator at Sarazen Gardens, Brampton, on 18 November 2019.

Materials Movement Ltd was hired to undertake ground clearance works at Sarazen Gardens in preparation for building new houses.

Rourke had been attaching ‘warning’ work signs to fencing around the site when he was hit by the vehicle.

He had only joined his employer months after graduating from the University of Birmingham with a degree in geology in the summer of 2019.

Failure to properly supervise work

graduate crushed to death
Graduate James Rourke, 22, (pictured) was crushed to death in the incident

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Materials Movement Ltd had failed to plan and manage the work at Sarazen Gardens. The company failed to properly supervise the work Rourke and the excavator driver were undertaking to ensure it was safe.

It also failed to ensure the work was planned and managed to eliminate any chance of Rourke working near the excavator.

Materials Movement Ltd, of Royston Road, Baldock, Hertfordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 15(2) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £133,330 and ordered to pay £8,500 in costs at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court on 22 March 2024.

2017 fatality

In February 2020, Materials Movement Ltd was sentenced following a separate HSE prosecution. The company was fined £33,000 following the death of worker Stephen Hampton who died from an explosion on Swain’s Lane in Camden on 16 March 2017.

HSE inspector Martin Paren said regarding Rourke’s death: “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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