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Lessons must be learned

Crossrail tragedy as workers die
Barckley Sumner, Friday, July 28th, 2017

Unite, the UK’s largest construction union, is calling on major contractors to urgently learn the lessons from the death of Rene Tkacik on the Crossrail project.


Unite made its call after joint venture company Bam Ferrovial Kier was fined over £1m after pleading guilty to health and safety offences relating to the death of Mr Tkacik and also two further incidents which resulted in severe injuries to workers.


Mr Tkacik was killed on March 7, 2014 when a tonne of wet concrete fell from the Crossrail tunnel at Fisher Street, Holborn and killed him.


On January 16, 2015 Terence ‘Ian’ Hughes was collecting materials in a tunnel when he was struck by a reversing excavator, resulting in severe fractures to his right leg and crush injuries. Six days later Alex Vizitiu, who was involved in spraying liquid concrete, was cleaning the pipes when he was hit by pressurised water, he suffered a broken finger, head and hip injuries and was hospitalised for six days.


“This is firstly a human tragedy where a husband went to work and didn’t return home again. The tragedy is even greater as we know his death was wholly avoidable,” commented Unite national officer for construction Jerry Swain.


“There are clear and straightforward ways of creating a safe way of working when applying concrete to the roof of a tunnel which would have ensured that no one could have inadvertently entered the danger area.


“Following the tragedy the companies responsible should have swiftly accepted their guilt rather than prolong the torment faced by the victim’s family,” he said.


Swaine continued, “The industry needs to learn the lessons from this tragedy, especially on major infrastructure projects. These projects often include potentially dangerous work but if proper procedures are put in place and workers are fully engaged in safe ways of working, deaths and injuries can be avoided.”


Bam Ferrovial Kier is an unincorporated joint venture company, comprising BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) and Keir Infrastructure and Overseas Limited.


BFK was fined a total of £1.065m for all three incidents.


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