Company was aware of unsafe working practice but didn’t intervene…
A logistics company based in the West Midlands has been ordered to pay a fine of £300,000 after one of their drivers was killed in an accident in Northamptonshire.
The 44-year-old accident victim had just begun his nightshift on 7 December 2010 when the accident occurred. He was crushed against another vehicle while trying to couple the tractor unit of his own vehicle to the adjoining trailer.
After his own vehicle had crushed the man onto another vehicle it continued to roll down a slope from the factory yard and was in danger of causing further tragedy as it neared a public highway only to collide with a wall which managed to bring the runaway vehicle to a stop. However the employee of the company suffered fatal crush injuries to his chest and died at the scene.
The subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the incident found that the company had previously identified driver safety issues related to the coupling of vehicle sections as some drivers persisted with the practice of not applying the handbrake to the main tractor unit of the vehicle or turning off its engine.
Northampton Crown Court was told that the company didn’t take the necessary action to ensure their workers followed the appropriate safety procedures while coupling their vehicle parts and that the company was negligent in terms of monitoring and supervising safe working practices in this regard. The company was also criticised for having no safety measures in place to prevent vehicles from rolling down the slope at the factory yard and causing potential damage elsewhere.
The logistics company pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £270,000 for the Section 2(1) charge and £30,000 for the Section 3(1) offence in addition to costs of £26,000 bringing their total liability to £326,000.
HSE inspector Judith McNulty-Green commented after the hearing had concluded:
“The man’s death was entirely preventable and his life has needlessly been lost.”
“It happened because of a poor and dangerous practice that the company was aware of but did nothing to stop. Appropriate controls should also have been in place to ensure vehicles did not roll away.
“What is so disappointing is that there had been previous similar incidents at this company and at the same site. Lessons should have been learned from these but weren’t.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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