‘Disengaged’ Kier MG relied on shortcuts before trench collapse, says HSE (Health and safety at work)

Construction giant Kier, which was fined £1.5m last month after a worker was seriously injured in a trench collapse, was “disengaged” from the project and failed to show up on site for over a week before works started, an HSE inspector has said.

As main contractor on the storm drain project, it relied on “improvised” methods used by its subcontractor, and also ignored a warning from its local authority client that the site’s ground conditions were poor.

Inspector Martin Waring told Health and Safety at Work that Kier MG’s subcontractor, Cambridge-based John Henry Civils, did not draw up a risk assessment or method statement before work started on the project to construct a storm drain in Holbeach, Lincolnshire.

After the incident, in which groundworker Vincent Talbot’s leg was broken in six places, John Henry civil backdated the documents to make it appear that workers had seen them before starting work.

At the time of the accident, the principal contractor was May Gurney, but it was acquired by Kier after the accident, in July 2013. From then on it became known as Kier MG.

“[Kier] May Gurney was detached from everything. It was the principal contractor and had duties which it should have carried out:  it should have been on site, it should have carried out an induction; it just failed to do anything as far as the project.”

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