£80,000 fine after worker crushed

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A haulage firm and sister company have been fined a combined £80,000 after an employee was crushed between a reversing lorry and trailer.

Paul Major was employed by William West & Sons (Ilkeston) Ltd as an offsite trailer fitter.

He was working with a colleague at a distribution warehouse operated by sister company, William West Distribution Ltd, at Somercotes in December 2011.

Mr Major and his colleague had parked their van in front of the trailer and had almost finished their work when a driver of an HGV tractor unit approached them.

He had been instructed to move the trailer the fitters were working on. The fitters informed the HGV driver that they had finished their work and so he returned to his vehicle in order to move it into position.

Mr Major began to write the next inspection date on the trailer whilst his colleague moved the van from in front of the trailer.

The HGV driver saw the van being moved in his rear view mirrors and began to reverse his vehicle up to the trailer.

Mr Major was hit and crushed between the reversing tractor unit and the trailer. He suffered several broken ribs and bleeding on his right lung.

An investigation by Matthew Salmon, environmental health officer from Amber Valley Borough Council, found that widespread health and safety failings by the firms contributed towards the accident.

The failings included a lack of risk assessment and safe systems of work for the manoeuvring of vehicles.

Existing risk assessments for the distribution site and trailer fitters were found to be unsuitable and insufficient.

Poor working practices were observed relating to pedestrian and vehicle segregation and site rules were not being implemented effectively.

William West Distribution Ltd had previously been prosecuted by Erewash Borough Council in 2009 following a forklift truck accident.

On Monday November 11 at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court William West & Sons (Ilkeston) Ltd admitted two offences of failing to ensure the safety of their employees and failing to ensure the safety persons not in their employment.

The company was fined £20,000 for each offence and ordered to pay £3,419 in costs. The sister company, William West Distribution Ltd, admitted to two separate offences of failing to ensure the safety of persons not in their employment and failure to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessment and was fined £20,000 for each offence and also ordered to pay £3,419 in costs.