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Major fines for two companies following worker's death

27 June 2016

Preston Crown Court fined Veolia ES Sheffield and John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders) a total of £815,000 after a worker was crushed to death by a refuse collection vehicle.

The incident occurred during the refurbishment of the vehicle at the John Fowler and Son premises in May 2014, the court heard. Rick Calsen was at the rear of the vehicle when an operative inside the cab closed the tailgate, crushing him to death.

Controls for raising and lowering the tailgate had been fitted to the inside of the vehicle's cab.

It should not have been possible to completely close the tailgate using the in-cab controls due to the system's design, the court was told.

There should have been a gap of at least 1m left between the bottom edges of the body and the tailgate, but examinations revealed a fault with the safety limit switch.

This was found to be jammed in the actuated position, resulting in the tailgate being able to be closed completely using the in-cab controls.

The Health & Safety Executive investigation found the incident occurred due to a poor system of work at JFS, derived from a lack of a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, including failure to prop the tailgate adequately.

In addition, the court was told Veolia failed in its inspection regime, which did not systematically review the functionality of the 1m safety limit switch (a designated safety function) on relevant RCVs.

If the fault had been identified and rectified at Veolia, the poor system of work employed at John Fowler and Son would have been unable to result in the closure of the tailgate causing the entrapment of the worker.

Veolia ES Sheffield of Pentonville Road, London, was found guilty of 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 Act 1974 and was fined £750,000 with £11,981 costs.

John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders), of Bexley Square, Salford, Manchester, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £65,000 with £12,443 costs.

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