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Kent company fined over worker death

Date:
9 September 2013
Brian PeekBrian Peek

A Kent aggregate company has been ordered to pay more than £180,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed by dangerous lifting equipment on a tipper lorry.

Brian Peek, 57, from Ashford, sustained fatal injuries whilst unloading bags of hardcore and aggregate for Moores Turf & Top Soil Limited at a domestic address in Wittersham on 20 November 2006.

The lorry was fitted with a small crane and clam shell bucket, which he used to grab the bags and lower them to the ground. As Mr Peek unloaded the final bag, he leant over the back of the lorry and the crane slew around, trapping his neck between the bucket and the back of the lorry’s tipping body. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Canterbury Crown Court heard today (9 September) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the equipment supplied to Mr Peek was in a poor state of repair and that the system of work employed to unload bulk bags of aggregate and hardcore was unsafe.

The incident could have been prevented had more suitable equipment been provided for the unloading task, such as a flatbed lorry and forklift truck. Moores had such equipment available for use, but chose to send the crane-mounted tipper instead.

Moores Turf & Top Soil Limited, of Callington Court Farm, Romney Marsh, was fined a total of £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.

After sentencing, HSE Principal Inspector Mike Walters said:

"Brian Peek’s tragic death could and should have been prevented. The lifting equipment on the lorry was badly maintained and simply wasn’t safe for use. It was also unnecessary because the firm had better equipment more suited to the job, which could have been used instead.

"Had Moores Turf & Top Soil 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.

"Employers must ensure that they properly maintain lifting equipment, and that they provide their employees with the most suitable and appropriate equipment for the tasks they undertake. They must also ensure that safe systems of work are followed on site during the unloading of goods from vehicles."

Further information on working safely with lifting equipment can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/loler.htm

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
  3. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

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