CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Firm fined over builder’s death on Francis Crick construction site

Richard Laco died after being hit by a concrete staircase falling from a hoist

28 April, 2017 — By Thomas McMahon

Richard Laco’s death ‘could have been prevented’

A BUILDING firm has been fined £185,000 following the death of a construction worker during the building of the Francis Crick Institute.

CMF Ltd – which says it has an annual turnover of £25million – pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Southwark Crown Court on Friday.

Richard Laco, 31, died when a one-tonne concrete staircase slipped out of a hoist and crushed him at the site in Midland Road, Somers Town, in November 2013.

Camden Unison secretary George Binette said: “The outcome of this case vindicates those campaigners, including Camden Unison representatives, who protested outside the site after Richard Laco’s tragic death more than three-and-a-half years ago. Of course, no fine, however large, can bring Richard back, but a case such as this highlights the inadequacy of current legislation in an industry where sub-contracting is rife and union organisation is weak or non-existent, and as a result monitoring of safety practices is all too often absent.”

The inquest into the death of Mr Laco – who quit a finance career to become a labourer – heard how construction firm Laing O’Rourke had subcontracted the installation of staircases and other large structures to CMF.

An investigation carried out by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2015 found there was “no safe system of work in place for the installation of the staircases throughout this project”. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Farthing said: “This incident could have been prevented if the company had properly planned the lifting process before work had begun.”

It is hoped that pioneering medical research at the £700million Francis Crick building, which opened last year, will save lives.

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