Construction company fined £600k after worker killed by dumper truck on Leith building site

A general view of the building site.
A general view of the building site.
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A construction company has been fined £600,000 after admitting its role in the horrific death of a father-of-four on a city building site.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard Vince Ramsay - a labourer on the student flats project at the Engine Yard on Leith Walk - suffered massive injuries when he was crushed by a dumper truck in December 2016.

The 55-year-old was crouching down re-spraying pile markings on the site just off Dryden Street when the huge truck, laden with excavated earth - hit him. Despite the efforts of the emergency services Mr Ramsay was declared dead at the scene.

Places for People is building 344 flats on the site of the old bus and tram depot at Shrubhill, alongside a 233-space underground car park. Work started in August and is scheduled to continue until around March 2020.

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The day-to-day running of the project was overseen by contractor Allenbuild Limited, which was investigated by experts from the Health and Safety Executive(HSE) and had a turnover of £131m last year.

The company has been fined £600,000 by Sheriff Norman McFadyen after pleading guilty to safety rule breaches at the site.

Sheriff McFadyen said: “Allenbuild Limited accept that, as the principal contractor for the redevelopment of the former bus and tram depot, they failed to organise the construction site in such a way that, so far as was reasonably practicable, pedestrians and vehicles could move without risks to health or safety in that they failed to ensure that pedestrians were not carrying out work on or near traffic routes whilst vehicles were in operation, in consequence of which Vincent Ramsay, who was a labourer engaged in pile mark respraying, was struck by a dumper truck and sustained fatal injuries.

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“It was Allenbuild which had the overall duty to organise the construction site in a way that, so far as was reasonably practicable, pedestrians and vehicles could move without risks to health or safety. The redevelopment at the site was to include housing and an underground car park and it was in the area of the projected underground car park that the accident occurred. That part of the site was accessed by a dirt ramp and the accident was near the bottom of the ramp. There were a number of sub-contractors working on the site, undertaking excavation and drainage works, piling works and environmental cleaning works in the engine sheds.

“Vincent Ramsay was employed on the site as a labourer via an agency and he had worked there since construction began in August 2016. He was highly thought of by colleagues and regarded as hardworking and conscientious.

“His general duties involved keeping the site compound and welfare area clean, salting paths in bad weather and erecting and dismantling fencing as required. He was known for trying to keep busy and would often ask others if there were any jobs he could do for them.

“While Mr Ramsay often worked alongside the site engineer he was known to work on his own initiative and without instruction respraying pile markings which may have been washed away or rubbed out by vehicles and the site manager and site engineer were both aware of that.

“It was such a task on which Mr Ramsay was engaged when he died and he was undertaking that task, as he would sometimes do, without specific instruction to do so. A dumper truck which was carrying excavated earth had stopped to allow other vehicles on the site to manoeuvre. Mr Ramsay was crouched down to respray a pile marker with spray paint. The driver of the dumper truck, which had restricted visibility in the area immediately to the front, because of the skip, which sits to the front of the driver and its load, had not seen Mr Ramsay and, when the traffic in front of him had cleared moved forward, striking and running over Mr Ramsay. The driver’s attention was immediately engaged by another driver who did see Mr Ramsay, but he was found to be unresponsive, did not respond to resuscitation and was pronounced dead a little later.”

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Sheriff McFadyen accepted that the firm had been in business for more than 70 years, had no previous convictions and had entered an early guilty plea.

He said: “A significant purpose of a fine in a case of this nature is to bring home to both management and shareholders the need to comply with health and safety legislation. It is not to put a value on a human life and that is not what the court is doing. It is punishing the company. Finally, I would wish to express to the family of Mr Ramsay my own condolences and sympathy.”

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