A Sheffield company that crushes rubble from construction and demolition waste, ultimately found to have poor health & safety control, has been fined £300,000 after an employee was killed by an overturning skip lorry in Derbyshire.
David Vickers, 37, of Walton, was tipping a skip at Adis Scaffolding Ltd’s site in Markham Lane, Duckmanton, when the incident happened on 22 July 2008.
Derby Crown Court heard today (7 June) that he had exited the cab of the truck he was driving to deploy the stabilising rear outriggers before raising a skip using the lifting arms. However, as he did so the vehicle overturned and landed on top of him, causing fatal injuries. He died at the scene.
A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the skip was mis-hooked, with the hooks engaging on the lip of a base plate rather than a catch bar, the correct part of the skip. This meant that it tipped normally until reaching an angle of approximately 70 degrees, at which point it broke free and swung out backwards causing the front of the vehicle to lift several feet off the ground. During the course of tipping the offside outrigger retracted causing the lorry to tip over.
HSE also established that there was no safe system of work for the skip operation, including how to handle mis-hooks and other foreseeable problems; that there was inadequate training and instruction; that the skip lorry controls were not marked; and that the risk assessment for loading and unloading skips fell short of identifying all significant risks and controls.
Adis Scaffolding Limited, now in liquidation but formerly of Queen Street, Sheffield, was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £124,468 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
After the hearing HSE inspector Edward Walker said:
“The failings by Adis Scaffolding Limited were substantial, ranging from unsuitable equipment, an inadequate risk assessment, inadequate training and instruction, and an absence of safe systems of work.
“These failings led to a situation where things went badly wrong, and where David was placed in an impossible situation. His tragic death could easily have been avoided with better planning, management and foresight.”
As a result of the incident HSE issued an industry-wide safety alert highlighting the dangers of incorrect engagement of hooks on skips. http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/tippinghooks.htm
Plus Safety Comment – Poor Health & Safety control can lead directly to major accidents and ultimate closure of your business, if you are a small to medium sized business then beware, as this example shows, heavy fines can lead to insolvency. One wonders what the cost of emplacing good health & safety control would have been in this company, one thing I can guarantee, it would have been a fraction of the actual cost of not doing so, somewhere in the region of 1-2%, So what exactly did this company save by not doing so? http://www.plussafety.co.uk or 01257411827 for a general chat on establishing health & safety control in your company.