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M25 worker killed by reversing bulldozer

  • 28 July 2014
  • By Roger Brown

Slough construction haulier J McArdle Contracts and a bulldozer operator have been found guilty of serious safety failings after a worker was run over and killed while working on the M25 widening project.

In a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Chelmsford Crown Court was told that Romanian national Mihai Hondru of Ilford, was working for J McArdle Contracts, which was managing the rebuilding of the embankment near junction 29 at Upminster in October 2010.

His job was to direct trucks to the correct position on the embankment for them to tip their loads of soil. Stephen Blackmore then levelled the tipped soil with his bulldozer.

As Hondru was helping a driver manoeuvre his vehicle, he was struck by the reversing bulldozer. He suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene.

HSE inspectors found that after carrying out a risk assessment, J McArdle had implemented a one-way system to minimise the risks to pedestrians from the moving vehicles.

On the day of the incident, ground conditions had changed, which meant the vehicles had to reverse into position and there were inadequate safety measures in place to protect workers operating near the reversing bulldozer.

In addition, Blackmore failed to take sufficient account of Hondru’s presence in his immediate vicinity.

Rather than making sure he knew exactly where Hondru was, he assumed he was not in his way or that Hondru would move out of his way when he reversed his bulldozer.

J McArdle Contracts – now in liquidation – was fined £2,000 after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The judge said that if the company had still been trading the fine would have been £200,000.
Stephen Blackmore, based in Devon, was also found guilty of breaching Regulation 37(3)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

At an earlier hearing, he was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay £2,500 costs.

Speaking after the case, HSE inspector Sandy Carmichael said: “What had seemed like a small change in the task was really very significant. Construction work needs good planning – and good planning includes thorough risk assessment.

“Any modification to the plan means the risks need to be reconsidered very carefully. Reassessing risk when circumstances change is crucial, as this tragic incident clearly shows,” he added.

On average, seven workers die each year as a result of incidents involving vehicles or mobile plant on construction sites. A further 93 are seriously injured.

Information about traffic management on construction sites can be found at


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