Man lay dead on building site for two days after being crushed by dumper truck

David White when his vehicle over-turned and crushed him as he worked alone at West Aberthaw Farm in the Vale of Glamorgan.

A dumper truck driver lay dead on a building site for two days before his body was discovered by colleagues.

David White, 38, died in October 2016 when his vehicle over-turned and crushed him as he worked alone on a weekend shift at West Aberthaw Farm in the Vale of Glamorgan.

He was working on a project undertaken on behalf of renovation firm X-Stream Properties.

Details of Mr White's death were revealed when the director of the company which employed him, and the project manager responsible for the renovation, appeared at Swansea Crown Court for breaching health and safety laws.

Graham Kuhlmann was the project manager and designer while a firm called Pro’Conn was in charge of the redevelopment itself.

Pro'Conn has since gone into liquidation, and was represented in court by its director Kevin March.

The company's director and the project manager appeared at Swansea Crown Court for breaching health and safety laws.

Prosecutor Simon Morgan told the court the renovation project at the farm had been running behind schedule at the time, following major problems with drainage works and people were working weekend shifts to catch up.

David White was working alone at the farm on the weekend of 1st and 2nd October using a dumper truck to move rubble and spoil around the site ready for the next stage of the redevelopment.

Mr Morgan said it was not known exactly what happened that weekend but at 8am on Monday, October 3, fellow workers arrived at the site to find their colleague "in the immediate vicinity" of an overturned dumper truck.

The court heard he had either jumped or been thrown from the vehicle, and then crushed as it rolled over.

The prosecutor said grass was found gripped in the father-of-three's fingers which suggested he had not been killed instantly in the incident, which had likely happened on the Saturday.

A post-mortem examination later found he had died of traumatic abdominal injuries.

Mr Morgan said Mr White had not been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the incident, and that the wearing of a belt was an essential element of the safety of such vehicles.

Following Mr White’s death, the Health and Safety Executive  issued a closure notice for the construction site, and launched an investigation.

The court heard that the inquiry uncovered a catalogue of safety failings and lack of proper plans and systems at the site, and that when safety concerns had been raised in the past, they had not been acted upon.

The court also heard that Mr White was one of eight people working on the project who were allowed to operate the dumper truck even though they were not qualified or "ticketed" to do so.

Mr Morgan said both Kuhlmann and March had responsibility for safety on the build, and that those responsibilities were non-delegable.

He said there had been "insufficient monitoring and supervision" on the site, which was a failing both defendants shared.

Kuhlmann, aged 48, of Parcau Road, Bridgend, and 59-year-old March, of Fields Park Road, Pontcanna, Cardiff, who both had responsibility for safety on the build, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act when they appeared in the dock for sentencing.

James Ageros, for Kulhmann, said his client wished to convey his condolences to the family of Mr White for what he called the "human tragedy" that happened.

Kevin Seal, for March, said his client's early guilty plea in the case was a sign of his "genuine remorse".

He said it was accepted that though "matters had been left to others", his client had "ultimate responsibility" for safety at the site.

Judge Paul Thomas QC told the defendants that it had been their business to know what was going on at the site, and they had responsibility for the health and safety of workers and visitors.

He said: "In law the buck stops with each of you."

The judge said the offending crossed the custody threshold, and he hoped the sentences he was about to impose would send out a message to others with the same responsibilities that the courts take such matters seriously.

Kulhamann was sentenced to 21 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, and March to 32 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months.

Kulhamann was ordered to pay £5,000 towards prosecution costs, and March £46,270 in costs - the judge said the differing amounts did not reflect the defendants' levels of blameworthiness but rather their ability to pay.

Judge Thomas offered family of Mr White his sincere condolences.