Construction firm director given suspended sentence and companies fined following death by crushing

16th February 2023

Tawanda Chamwandayita from Edgbaston, Birmingham suffered fatal crush injuries when units of glass fell on top of him while unloading materials from a shipping container on a lorry

Evergreen Construction (UK) Limited was the principal contractor.

Leyton Homes (Perry Barr) Limited had engaged its own contractor to arrange the delivery and unloading of the container.

Jalal Rana, managing director of Leyton Homes (Perry Barr) Limited, was on site and watching the unloading.

A joint investigation by the Health and Safety Executive and West Midlands Police found the unloading was not properly planned, supervised or carried out safely.

It appears all three defendants were found guilty on the basis that they failed to assess the risks of both workers and materials falling from the lorry during unloading.

On 20 January 2023, Birmingham Crown Court fined Evergreen Construction (UK) Limited £115,000 and ordered it to pay £52,561.96 prosecution costs for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) and Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Leyton Homes (Perry Barr) Limited was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £55,084.67 prosecution costs for the same offences.

Managing director Jalal Rana was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay £57,171.95 prosecution costs for breaching s37 HSWA.

Industry statistics

Despite a drop in actual numbers, there are still more deaths in the construction industry than another industry, according to the HSE’s 2022 annual report on workplace fatalities.

All those working in this dangerous industry should note the tragic circumstances of Mr Chamwandayita’s death and remember that roles and responsibilities need to be clearly demarcated between clients, contractors and principal contractors working alongside each other so that health and safety arrangements can be properly planned, co-ordinated and implemented.

Managers and directors might also note that this case follows the recent trend in prosecuting both companies and their directors, particularly when directors working at the scene of accidents. Their very presence makes it easier for prosecutors to prove the elements of consent, connivance or neglect which are necessary for s37 convictions.

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