Some five years after his death, a road maintenance company has been fined £65,000 after a motorist was killed on the M6 near Carnforth a victim of various safety failures.
Graham Campbell, who was travelling north at about 11.30pm on 8th May 2004, died after hitting an unlit contractor’s vehicle parked on the hard shoulder of the M6, just past junction 35 near Carnforth.
Cumbrian Industrials Ltd, of The Ridge, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive in relation to the incident and appeared before Preston Crown Court on Tuesday 15th December. The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of the public.
The court heard that Cumbrian Industrials was guilty of several failings, including inconsistency in the positioning of the traffic cones, between the hard shoulder and lane one, which caused uncertainty to motorists about whether the hard shoulder should be used.
Cumbrian Industrials, which employs just over 80 people nationally and had a turnover of some £42m in the UK in 2007, also failed to provide detailed drawings for a change in the layout of the traffic cones, after the original plans were altered, and the cones were not moved back into place after the white line between lanes one and two had been repainted.
The judge deferred his decision on what costs the company should pay in addition to the fine.
“Everyone involved in roadworks should learn from this tragedy and consider whether they are doing enough to prevent deaths and injuries," commented Joy Jones, HSE’s Principal Inspector for traffic management.
“Roadworks always need to be managed with great care to ensure the safety of both construction workers and road users. There should be clear signing and a consistent use of traffic cones.
“Motorway roadworks can be very dangerous places for both workers and the travelling public unless a high degree of control is maintained, and Cumbrian Industrials was legally required to make sure this was the case.
“The company should have carefully planned and co-ordinated the work of its subcontractors. A new route through the roadworks should not have been opened until the carriageway was clear of obstructions and the correct signs and cones were in place.
“We will not hesitate to take action against construction companies who fail to comply with the law.”
Over the past seven years, 11 members of the public have lost their lives in incidents relating to the construction and maintenance of roads, airfields and sports facilities.
• More information on construction safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/construction