Fatal refuse vehicle accident leads to £815,000 in fines

Ashleigh Wight
June 28, 2016


Two companies have been fined a total of £815,000 after a worker was fatally crushed in the rear of a refuse collection vehicle (RCV).

Preston Crown Court was told that the vehicle’s tailgate was closed on Rick Calsen while it was being worked on at John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders) in Chorley, Lancashire in May 2014. The vehicle was operated by Veolia ES Sheffield.

The tailgate was closed using the in-cab controls, and examiners found a fault with the safety system which was supposed to leave a gap of 1m between the bottom of the tailgate and the edges of the body when the in-cab controls were used. It was found to be jammed, allowing the tailgate to be closed completely.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the companies, said the incident occurred due to a poor system of work at John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders), which included failing to prop the tailgate adequately.

The HSE also found that Veolia ES Sheffield failed in its inspection regime and did not systematically check that the safety limit switch on its refuse collection vehicles was functioning correctly.

Veolia ES Sheffield, of Pentonville Road, London, pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety
at Work Act 1974 and was fined £750,000 with £11,981 in costs.

John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders), of Bexley Square, Salford, Manchester, also pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations and was handed a £65,000 fine with £12,443 in costs.

HSE inspector Rohan Lye said: “It is important for organisations to maintain safety critical devices so they function correctly. Additionally, if a company utilises a system
of work that does not rely on the effectiveness of that safety device, but then employs a contractor to work on the machine, there should be an effectively communicated handover so both are aware of any limitations and how the machine could function.

“As a result of the failings on behalf of both duty holders, Rick Calsen, a young man and father-to-be, lost his life while going about his work.”

The HSE said had the fault with the safety limit switch been identified and rectified by Veolia, the poor system of work used by John Fowler and Son would not have resulted in a fatality.

It added that Veolia’s failure to inform third parties about the condition of the safety equipment exposed workers to “unnecessary risk”.


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