Ontime Automotive has been prosecuted for health and safety failings after a worker was crushed by the upper deck of a vehicle transporter.
In May 2013, John Wallace was jet washing a twin-deck recovery vehicle at the automotive logistics and vehicle recovery firm's Hayes, Middlesex site when the upper deck collapsed on top of him. He died of his injuries at the scene.
The HSE, which investigated the incident found that the vehicle recovery equipment that was supplied by Winchester-based J&J Conversions, was found to have been poorly designed and presented a safety risk.
The HSE said the upper deck was only stable in its raised position if secured by two powered locking pins. If another device intended to detect the position of the upper deck, operated by hand, was used incorrectly, it was impossible to lower the locking pins.
The HSE said J&J Conversions had also failed to take appropriate measures to remedy the issue when the upper deck collapsed on a previous occasion. The vehicle was owned by another operator at the time.
Only a limited number of Ontime Automotive employees knew how to operate the device, which meant that it did not have a proper safety procedure in place.
The HSE said companies should ensure that employees are trained to use workplace machinery.
Ontime Automotive, based in Waterside Drive, Langley, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Southwark Crown Court earlier this month. It was fined £50,000 with £50,000 in costs.
J&J Conversions, of St Peter Street, Winchester, also pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations. It was fined £100,000 and must pay £9,490 in costs.
HSE inspector Stephen Kirton said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident caused by poor design and the failure to control unsafe practices.
“Any company designing, manufacturing or supplying equipment for use at work must ensure that its safe operation is correctly considered and engineered in, and that foreseeable issues are properly considered."
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