A local authority worker with special needs was hit and badly hurt by a reversing 17.5-tonne dustbin lorry, a London court heard last week.
Southwark Crown Court was told that an employee of Croydon Council, working in the motor vehicle repair shop of Veolia as a workshop cleaner, had a history of standing in the way of moving vehicles and needed to be supervised.
The man suffered fractures to his right fibula, knee, ankle, wrist and hand. He also sustained a ‘degloving’ injury to his right hand which needed a skin graft.
Between them Croydon Council and Veolia were told to pay fines and costs of more than £370,000.
An HSE investigation found that there was a recognised need for greater supervision and that he was often required to work in areas of the workshop where large vehicles with low visibility were manoeuvering.
This was an issue known to both the London Borough of Croydon and Veolia, who the court heard had failed to address it properly.
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.
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.”