On 22 September 2008, 46-year-old Ondrej Hladik died when he was crushed by a boom on a telehandler he was driving at the construction site. Hladik was employed to work on the project by a company contracted by Hochtief.
The company pled guilty at Inverness Sheriff Court to failing to ensure his health, safety and welfare which it was obliged to do in relation to those working on the site but not directly employed by Hochtief.
According to a statement from the Crown Office, the telehandler which Mr Hladik was driving was in extremely poor condition. The most significant of many defects found on examination of the telehandler following Mr Hladik’s death was that a large window which, had it been in place would have prevented any part of the handler’s body from being exposed to risk of being struck by the boom as it lowered under hydraulic power, was missing completely.
It is believed that the boom lowered onto and crushed Mr Hladik when he was leaning through the missing window. The incident could not have occurred had the protective window been in place.
The case was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and reported to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) Health and Safety Division. Specialist prosecutors worked closely with HSE Inspectors to prepare the case for prosecution and brought the case to court, resulting in a guilty plea being tendered by the company.
Following the case, HSE Inspector John Shelton said: “All plant machinery should be properly maintained - contractors must be able to demonstrate that this is the case on their sites. This tragic incident should have been avoided.”
Hochtief’s fine was reduced from £400,000 due to their early plea of guilty.