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Firms Fined after Worker is Crushed by Refuse Collection Vehicle

Two companies have been fined a total of £815,000 following an incident in which a worker was crushed to death by a refuse collection vehicle (RCV).

Incident

On 17th May 2014, workers were carrying out a refurbishment task at John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders) Limited (JFS). A worker operating the controls of the RCV from the vehicle’s cab closed the tailgate on father-to-be Rick Calsen, fatally crushing him.

HSE Investigation

An investigation into the incident found there had been multiple safety breaches.

The in-cab controls for adjusting the RCV’s tailgate are supposed to have a safety feature in place that leaves a minimum gap of 1m between the bottom edges of the body and the tailgate. However the safety switch in this particular vehicle was faulty, meaning it was possible to completely close the tailgate using the in-cab controls.

HSE investigators found that a poor system of work at JFS and a lack of a suitable risk assessment lead to the death of Mr Calsen.

Furthermore, HSE found that waste management firm Veolia ES Sheffield Limited (Veolia) had failed in its inspection process as the company had not reviewed the ‘functionality of the 1m safety limit switch’ on particular RCVs.

Investigators found that the poor system of work at JSF would not have resulted in the fatality had the safety switch fault been rectified at Veolia.

HSE inspector Rohan Lye said after the hearing:

“This tragic incident was entirely preventable.

“It is important for organisations to maintain safety critical devices so they function correctly. Additionally, if a company utilises a system of work which does not rely on the effectiveness of that safety device, but then employs a contractor to work on the machine, there should be an effectively communicated handover so both are aware of any limitations and how the machine could function.

“Veolia’s failure to include the functionality of a manufacturer-stated safety critical device on its RCVs in its maintenance regimes resulted in an inability to relay information to any third party about its presence and condition. Therefore it exposed non-employees to unnecessary risk and ultimately contributed to this appalling loss of life.

“Similarly, JFS’s failure to implement a safe system of work for the maintenance of the RCV meant that any of its employees were exposed to the same risk. The lack of an adequate assessment of the risks of working around RCVs enabled the hazard of the non-functioning switch to materialize in the worst possible manner.

“As a result of the failings on behalf of both duty-holders, Rick Calsen, a young man and father-to-be lost his life whilst going about his work.”

Sentencing

John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders) Limited, of Bexley Square, Salford, Manchester, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined a total of £65,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,443.

After pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc., Veolia ES Sheffield Limited of Pentonville Road, London was fined £750,000. The waste management firm was also ordered to pay £11,981 costs.

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If you have been injured in the workplace and you would like expert advice on this type of case, contact Hampson Hughes Solicitors today on 0800 888 6 888 or email claims@hampsonhughes.com for a FREE initial consultation.

Source: Health & Safety Executive

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