£180,000 fine for Kent company after lorry death

by Alex on September 10, 2013

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A Kent-based aggregate company was forced to pay over £180,000 after dangerous lifting equipment on a tipper lorry resulted in a worker’s death.

The worker was unloading bags of hardcore and aggregate at domestic address in Wittersham when the incident occurred in 2006. The lorry was fitted with a small crane and a clamshell bucket, which was used to grab the bags and place them on the ground. Inspecting the final bag, the worker leaned backwards, causing the crane to swing around and trap his neck between the bucket and the back of the lorry.

He sustained fatal injuries, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

After an investigation, HSE prosecuted the aggregate company. Inspectors told Canterbury Crown Court how the equipment supplied to the worker was in a poorly maintained and unsuitable for the work. The accident could have been prevented if appropriate equipment, such as a flat-bed lorry and a forklift, had been used. The company had both available, but chose to send the tipper lorry instead.

HSE inspectors were shocked by the almost non-existent system of work in place. “ Had [the company] taken time to properly assess the risks associated with the delivery of bulky bags of hardcore and aggregate, it would have become clear that a safer method of working was necessary and could be used,” said Principal Inspector Mike Walters.

The company was fined  £85,000 and ordered to pay a further £97,791 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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