Worker killed while excavator falls through concrete slab

Southwark Crown Court heard that on April 14, 2014, 33-year-old Dainius Rupsys of Lithuania was working with an excavator operator at the site in Grosvenor Square in London.

The existing multi-story building was being demolished before 31 residential floors could be built.

Rupsys had been burning reinforcing steel bars with an oxypropane lance to help the excavator operator’s efforts to remove part of the reinforced concrete slab.

Another worker had alerted the supervisor that his work had made the structure unsafe and the demolition stopped.

But the supervisor ordered that the accessories that supported the remaining slab be removed and less than ten minutes later it collapsed.

The Court heard that the excavator could have returned to the slab after the struts were removed.

Rupsys, the excavator and its operator in the cabin fell with the slab. Rupsys suffered serious head injuries and died at the scene, while the excavator operator injured his back.

An HSE investigation found that in the weeks leading up to the incident, the CCTV of aerial cameras showed that the demolition work had been carried out in an unsafe way, that Rupsys was not adequately trained to use the oxipropane spear and had no training on the use of the safety harness, which was not attached when the incident occurred.

McGee Group Limited of Wembley, Middlesex pleaded guilty to violating the CDM regulations and was fined £ 500,000 with £ 66,236.22 in costs.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented after the hearing: “In the weeks leading up to this tragic incident, workers regularly ran an acute risk of falling.

“This is a case of a company that wants to have good systems to protect workers, but does not pay enough attention to what was really happening on the site.

“The death of this young man could have been prevented. Mr. Rupsys should not have been allowed to operate an oxypropane spear. Employers have a duty to verify that workers have sufficient skills, knowledge, experience and training before allowing them to use the equipment “.

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