Updated Jan 30, 2023

£4.4 million fine for civil engineering firm

A civil engineering firm has been fined more than £4m after workers accidentally damaged overhead powerlines.

Kier's workers twice struck overhead powerlines while working on the M6 motorway causing cables to land in the path of passing vehicles. In one incident, an overhead cable the workers brought down hit a lorry. In another earlier incident, a cable landed on the motorway.

During the first incident, in March 2018, three Kier workers accidentally struck and severed a highly powerful overhead power line which landed on the M6 and in a nearby field when they were clearing tarmac from the hard shoulder and loading a truck with a digger. Footage showed a worker running away and narrowly avoiding being hit.

Kier failed to immediately tell Scottish Power, meaning the cable was re-energised a number of times whilst on the motorway.

The second incident occurred in January 2019, when another team of three workers from a sub-contractor were removing a temporary motorway barrier. The crane arm attached to their lorry loader struck an overhead cable which led to an unmarked power line being hit and snapped by an oncoming lorry.

Both incidents took place during overnight roadworks between junctions 16 and 18 of the M6 near Sandbach in Cheshire.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspection found that inadequate planning from Kier meant the vehicle used in the first incident was unsuitable despite other more suitable vehicles being available. There was also no task-specific risk assessment available for the workers.

In the second incident, the workers said that they were unaware of the overhead hazards.

HSE inspector Mike Lisle said: "This is a significant fine reflecting the seriousness of the failures here. The company’s failure to plan the work properly and provide an adequate risk assessment put its workers and those using the motorway in significant danger."

Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Limited, of Clippers Quay, Salford pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations SI 2015/51. They were fined a total of £4.415m and ordered to pay costs of £87,759.60.