A leading construction company has been fined following an incident in which a worker was killed when a dumper truck overturned.

The court heard that in October 2016, a groundworker working for the construction company, was manoeuvring a 9T front tipping dumper truck on a spoil heap to offload top soil. He lost control of the truck which toppled forward and came to rest upside down at the base of the spoil heap. A colleague noticed the overturned truck and ran over to assist, but he had sustained a serious head injury during the fall and died on scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found major deficiencies in the management of tipping operations on the spoil heaps. The investigation established that the operation was not properly planned; drivers were not given instruction or training on how to safely operate vehicles and tip on spoil heaps, and the job itself was poorly supervised. The victim did not have his seat belt fastened and the investigation confirmed that this was common practice on the site.

The construction company pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and has been fined £225,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,822.90.

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE inspector said, “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the employer to assess the risk related to tipping operations, implement safe systems of work, and failure to ensure that such systems were communicated to groundworkers and were followed.”

Guidance – dumpers

What you need to do

The law says you must organise your site to segregate pedestrians and dumpers. The dumpers used must be carefully selected, maintained and operated by trained drivers. Key issues are:


What you need to know

A safe workplace for all vehicle operations must be established by separating pedestrians and vehicles and providing hazard-free traffic routes. See Traffic management: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/vehiclestrafficmanagement.htm

Dumper hazards

Most fatal injuries involving dumpers are caused by:

  • Overturning – over 60% of dumper deaths involve the driver when the vehicle overturns;
  • Collision – most other deaths occur when pedestrians are struck by the dumper when it is reversing or going forwards on site.


Controlling the risk

It is important to select the right dumper for the job. There are a number of key factors to consider when controlling the significant hazards arising from use of dumpers. These are:

  • Gradients: Plan the work so that dumpers are used on gradients that are within their safe working capacity. Check with the manufacturer.
  • Competence: Arrange for dumpers to be driven by trained and competent operators and implement a system for supervising safe driving practice.
  • Safety devices: Check that dumpers are provided with roll-over protection and that drivers use their seatbelts.
  • Loading: Make sure loads are distributed evenly and provide purpose-built platforms for regularly transported items, eg large drums.
  • Vision: Make sure that loads do not obscure driver vision.
  • Edges: Provide wheel stops at a safe distance from edges of excavations, pits and spoil heaps to prevent site dumpers falling when tipping.


Training and competence

There are two categories of worker who must be trained and competent regarding dumper hazards and precautions:

  • Drivers should be trained, competent and authorised to operate the specific dumper. Training certificates from recognised schemes help demonstrate competence, and certificates should be checked for validity;
  • Pedestrians: should be instructed in safe pedestrian routes on site and the procedure for making drivers aware of their presence.


Inspection and maintenance

A programme of daily visual checks, regular inspections and servicing schedules should be established in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the risks associated with each vehicle.

Drivers should be encouraged to report defects or problems. Reported problems should be put right quickly and the dumper taken out of service if the item is safety critical.

For guidance on mobile plant and vehicles, click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/mobileplant.htm


Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.