UK Utility Fined $470,000 in Backover Fatality

"Raymond Holmes sadly lost his life because basic safety standards were not in place to protect him and other workers," HSE Inspector Nick Patience said after the sentencing. "Working alongside mobile plant can be extremely dangerous, and it is vital that effective control measures are in place at all times to ensure collisions are avoided."

Thames Water, a British utility, has been fined approximately $470,000 for the death of a worker who was run over an excavator traveling in reverse at a treatment works in Walthamstow. Raymond Holmes, 59, of Rayleigh, died at the scene on April 30, 2010, the Health and Safety Executive reported. HSE said Holmes was part of a team cleaning a large sand filter bed, which involved the use of several pieces of mobile plant machinery, including the excavator.

Thames Water was sentenced Dec. 8. The agency reported Holmes had been an employee of Thames Water Utilities Limited for more than 30 years. He was using laser leveling equipment to measure the depth of the sand bed on foot when he was struck.

HSE investigators concluded Thames Water Utilities Limited provided no formal instruction or supervision to the workers cleaning the bed, none of them was required to wear high-visibility clothing, and the excavator was not equipped with effective rear-view mirrors or a reversing alarm.

Thames Water Utilities Limited was fined £300,000 ($469,905 in U.S. dollars) and ordered to pay £61,229 in costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

"Raymond Holmes sadly lost his life because basic safety standards were not in place to protect him and other workers," HSE Inspector Nick Patience said after the sentencing. "Working alongside mobile plant can be extremely dangerous, and it is vital that effective control measures are in place at all times to ensure collisions are avoided. Although Thames Water had identified the potential risks, the company failed to ensure the necessary precautions and safe systems of work were in place, understood by all, and monitored on that fateful day."

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