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Bus operator in court over death of young employee

West Midlands Travel has been sentenced over the death of an employee who was crushed between two buses.

What happened?

Lee Baker, an assistant mechanic, was attempting to move a double-decker bus to get access to a pit, during a night shift at the company’s depot.

The reverse gear wasn’t working, so he and a colleague attempted to push it backwards to move it past a single-decker bus that was parked ten feet away.

Mr Baker then went to the driver’s seat, where there is an automatic safety device engaging the parking brake when the doors are open. He attempted to put the gearbox in neutral but inadvertently left it in drive.

Because of this, the parking brake disengaged after shut the vehicle doors. The bus then began to roll towards the two men, who were standing in front of the bus ready to push.

Though Mr Baker’s colleague managed to jump out of the way, he didn’t move in time and was crushed between the two vehicles.

The 24 year old, who lived in Walsall with his partner and their-then 20-month-old daughter, died in hospital three-and-a-half months later having never regained consciousness.

An investigation into the incident found that, as well as no supervisor being on duty at the time of the accident, West Midlands Travel had failed to perform a suitable assessment of the risks inherent in moving buses manually.

What was the outcome?

West Midlands Travel Ltd was fined a total of £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £35,119, after pleading guilty to a breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and a separate offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector, Eve-Marie Edwards, said:

“This was a dreadful tragedy and was devastating to Lee Baker’s family.
It is clear that the failings of West Midlands Travel contributed
significantly to this young man’s death.

“There was no supervisor on duty to advise Mr Baker or to ensure that
no attempts were made to move a bus without somebody at the
wheel, or advise him to call the recovery
agency to move it.

“The company has since introduced a number of safety measures to
prevent a recurrence. It is a pity a young man, who should
have had his whole life ahead of him, had to die
in what was an avoidable incident for
that to happen.”

If you or a loved one have been affected by an incident such as this, and you would like expert advice, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6888 or email

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