HS2 drilling death: coroner calls for action

The coroner who investigated the death of an HS2 worker in April 2023 says in his report to pipeline and drilling trade bodies that “action should be taken to prevent future deaths”.

Charles Harper was undertaking horizontal directional drilling works at the HS2 construction site off Middle Bickenhill Lane in Marston Green, Birmingham, when an unsecured tail end of a coiled pipe sprang and struck him, causing serious abdominal and chest injuries. He died in hospital the following day. 

Although the coil trailer was supplied with a restraining clamp and strap, these securing mechanisms were not used on the day of Harper’s accident.

‘Matters of concern’

In his report to the Pipeline Industries Guild and British Drilling Association, Birmingham coroner James Bennett wrote that his investigation “revealed matters of concern”.

These include “a material number” of drilling and pipe dispensing companies that still dispense coiled pipe without any method of securing the tail end of the pipe coil, contrary to trailer operating manual instructions.

“It appears to me that a number of drilling/pipe dispensing companies who do not always seek to secure the tail end of pipe coil during dispending, are likely to be members of either the Pipeline Industries Guild and/or British Drilling Association,” Bennet wrote.

“Both organisations explain on their respective websites an aim is to improve the health and safety of its members. Both organisations are likely to be in a position to take action to alert their members to the risk.”

The Pipeline Industries Guild and British Drilling Association must respond to the report within 56 days detailing any action proposed, or already taken.

Story for CM? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in News