On 21 December 2010, Hotchief Construction AG was fi ned £266,000 (reduced from £400,000 due to an early guilty plea) for the death of a construction worker employed by a sub-contractor at the Glendoe hydro-electric scheme near Fort Augustus in Scotland.

Ondrej Hladick was crushed while operating a telehandler lifting vehicle. The court heard that the vehicle was in a poorly maintained condition and that in particular, one of the vehicle’s windows was missing. It is believed that Mr Hladick was crushed by the telehandler’s telescopic lifting arm by leaning out of the missing window while the arm was lowered. Had the protective window been in place, the incident would not have occurred.

This case highlights both the need for companies to properly vet the health and safety management systems of their contractors and the importance of regular and proper maintenance checks of vehicles at work.

In any contractor/sub-contractor relationship, both parties will have duties under health and safety law which, amongst other things, places duties on employers sharing a workplace to co-operate and co-ordinate on health and safety matters. All companies should have procedures in place for vetting, instructing and supervising contractors.

Similarly, companies employing workplace transport and/or equipment should have procedures in place to ensure that it is properly and regularly checked and maintained. The PUWER and LOLER regulations include specifi c provisions on lifting vehicles such as telehandlers and Approved Code of Practice L117 provides guidance on operator training.