Croydon council and a large waste company have been fined after a worker was crushed by a reversing dust cart, suffering significant injury.
Southwark Crown Court was told how, on 9 May 2016, an employee of London Borough of Croydon, working within the motor vehicle repair undertaking of Veolia ES (UK) Limited as a workshop cleaner, was struck by a reversing 17 and a half tonne dust cart. The worker suffered multiple fractures to his right fibula, femur, knee, ankle, wrist and hand. He also suffered a de-gloving injury to his right hand requiring a skin graft.
The HSE investigation found the workshop cleaner was employed as a ‘supported employee’ due to his learning difficulties with a recognised need for heightened supervision. Due to his work, he was often required to work in parts of the site, such as the workshop, where large vehicles with low rear visibility for drivers were manoeuvring. He was known to have a history of standing in the path of moving vehicles, an issue known to both duty holders which they failed to address adequately. It was later found that London Borough of Croydon had relied upon a historical ‘agreement’ from 2003 whereby their previous waste contractor had agreed to supervise the workshop cleaner. The court heard that direct management or supervision of the individual had diminished over time and the worker was left with no active management. It was found that London Borough of Croydon failed due to their presumption that Veolia were managing the injured party and that they should have communicated with Veolia to keep their employee safe.
Veolia ES (UK) Limited did not recognise this ‘agreement’ nor did they require the services of the workshop cleaner but, nevertheless, the worker continued to operate within their workshop and had done since their contract began.
It was found in court that Veolia failed to take reasonably practicable precautions to ensure the injured party was safe whilst working within their workshop due to a lack of implementation of adequate controls for workplace transport, such as use of a banksman. The court also heard both duty holders failed to take into account the specific capabilities of this vulnerable worker and to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the safety of this individual working within a high-risk environment.
London Borough of Croydon of Bernard Weatherill House, Croydon pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,842.83
Veolia ES (UK) Limited of Pentonville Road, London pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay costs of £11,359.83
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Megan Carr said: “This serious workplace transport incident could have been avoided if both duty holders had taken the appropriate safety precautions when planning this activity. Failing to identify the risks led to this man suffering serious life changing injuries.”
Source – SHP