Fleet News

Court for company after reversing digger injures worker

A Hampshire waste company has been fined for serious safety failings after a worker was run over by a reversing digger at a yard in Eastleigh.

Martin Jewell, 49, from Gosport, sustained life-changing injuries, including a double fracture to his right shin bone and broken bones in both feet, in the incident at Solent Waste Services Limited on 30 October 2012.

The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found more could and should have done to segregate the movement of pedestrians and vehicles.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London heard that Mr Jewell, a skip driver, had returned to the site after completing a job to see if any more work was required.

He walked to a storage unit and asked a digger driver to pull out another skip to fill before turning to make his way to a nearby office. However, as he walked away the digger reversed into him, knocking him over and crushing his legs.

HSE found there was nothing in place at the yard to ensure vehicles and workers were kept apart, such as designated walkways or zones.

The court was told that pedestrians routinely walked and stood in areas where vehicles were circulating.

Solent Waste Services Limited, of Withy Meadows, Dutton Lane, Eastleigh, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £19,752 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sec 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Zahir Agha said: “Incidents of this kind, where vehicles strike workers because movements are not properly controlled, occur all too often in the waste sector and result in a number of deaths and serious injuries every year.

“Work around moving vehicles has to be properly planned, in line with guidance that is readily available through HSE and others.

“Solent Waste Services could and should have done more, and as a result Mr Jewell has been left with debilitating injuries from which he may never fully recover.”

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  • Edward Handley - 31/03/2014 09:39

    Keeping pedestrians and vehicles separate in the workplace is a major safety issue but can be very hard to achieve in practice because so many businesses work from premises which they have outgrown or which were never designed for the number and size of modern vehicles. The penalties imposed on companies following an accident involving death or serious injury are inevitably severe as this case shows. However, the same problem exists on the streets of every town in the country. Untrained pedestrians, including children who would not be allowed into most business premises, are allowed to walk close to moving traffic usually protected by nothing more than a kerb stone which trucks, and even cars, can mount with ease. Worse still, these untrained pedestrians are allowed to cross busy streets in an uncontrolled manner, even weaving through moving traffic. When an accident occurs the response is different though. The Authorities blame and prosecute the vehicle or machine driver,or occasionally blame the pedestrian. They never blame the road or street operator (the local authority) unless they can show there is a pattern of accidents at the same spot which the Local Authority has not addressed which may result in some sharp words from the Coroner. But never a prosecution. No one condones sloppy practice or putting people's lives at risk, but there really is an incredible difference between the normal situation on our roads and what is expected in the workplace. The same is true of drivers. If a serious accident investigation shows that someone was operatoring a fork lift truck without adequate training for that specific type of machine, the employer will be prosecuted, but if a driver trained 10 years ago on a basic 1 litre driving school hatchback causes a serious collision on the road with a 3.5 tonne panel van the Authorities will prosecute the driver, not the employer who did not ensure he was adequately trained on that vehicle type. Yet we all know that driving, or travelling as a passenger in a car, is about the most dangerous work you can do these days!

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