Man crushed by refuse truck
Two companies were fined after a hearing in Preston Crown Court that saw them plead guilty for violations of the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. Essex residents will be familiar with the refuse collection vehicles which collect their rubbish. The court case concerned an incident that resulted in a man being crushed to death when the tailgate of a rubbish collection vehicle closed on him.
A report into the incident found that the tailgate should not have been able to fully close. The operating controls that were located in the cab of the vehicle included a safety feature to ensure that a 1 metre gap was left when the mechanism was activated. The switch was found to have been stuck in a position that allowed the tailgate to close completely shut, and the Health and Safety Executive investigation showed that the accident could have been prevented if this safety switch was functioning as intended.
The company responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle failed to include the safety feature as part of its regular equipment checks and was fined £750,000 for its failures. Another company involved in the operations of the vehicle was fined £65,000 for its failures which included inadequate risk assessments and unsafe operating procedures. An inspector with the HSE explained that the loss of life could have been prevented if safe working practices had been adhered to.
Employers have a duty of care to ensure that their workers are not endangered during the course of business operations. The company is responsible if it fails in this duty, and a solicitor may offer legal advice to an injured victim seeking to hold a negligent employer accountable for its mistakes.