Accidents involving vehicles in the waste and recyling industry remain high

Speaking after a court case recently, an HSE inspector said the accident rate within the waste and recycling industry remains one of the highest in any sector- with many incidents involving contact between vehicles and pedestrians.

Her comments were made following a case that saw a recycling firm ordered to pay more than £30,000 after a worker's arm became trapped between a crane and a van (which can be found in the 13 August  issue of Commercial Motor if you're interested in finding out what else happened to the company), and highlighted how seriously the authorities take such accidents.

According to the HSE, the waste and recycling sector is classified as a “high-risk industry” and accounts for about 2.6% of all reported injuries and 2.2% of fatalities, despite employing only 0.5% of the working population.

Between 2009/10 and 2013/14, 29% of fatalities in the waste and recycling sector involved being struck by a moving vehicle.

Although still a staggering amount, this was an improvement on the previous five-year period, which saw vehicles involved in 53% of fatal accidents in the sector.

Goods vehicle operators- in any part of the road transport industry, not just in the waste business- should be well prepared for a visit from the authorities if they are involved in a fatal accident. Operators should expect a visit from both the police and the HSE soon after the incident, so preparing quickly is vital. Failing to report the incident to the HSE, in most cases on the day of the accident, is a breach of health and safety legislation.

But, of course, preventing such accidents from occurring should be every operator’s first step. The HSE has produced a helpful guide on how to separate pedestrians and vehicles, which includes segregation, marking out crossing points, and training employees.

Heavy Haulage (Scotland) loses appeal against O-licence decision

The traffic commissioner (TC) was right to refuse Heavy Haulage (Scotland) an O-licence due to concerns about the sole director’s relationships with disqualified people and a revoked operator, the Upper Tribunal has ruled.

In a written decision following a public inquiry (PI) in January, TC for Scotland Joan Aitken highlighted the links between the Kirkcaldy firm and revoked operator Randolph Transport, disqualified director William Tottenham, and disqualified transport manager and director Catherine Tottenham.

The PI was called after director Edward Tottenham, a former Randolph Transport employee, applied for an O-licence authorising five vehicles and five trailers for his new business, Heavy Haulage (Scotland).

The TC was unconvinced that the director’s father William Tottenham, and sister Catherine Tottenham, would not be involved in the business if she granted the company an O-licence.

She came to her decision after the PI was told Randolph Transport, which had its O-licence revoked last year, continued to pay Edward Tottenham a monthly wage.

The proposed operating centre was also Randolph Transport, and the application was made shortly after the TC decided in June 2014 to revoke the Randolph O-licence.

Funds to meet the financial standing requirement had come from one of his father’s companies on the Isle of Man.

On appeal, the company argued the TC wrongly determined that Edward Tottenham’s family connections go against his fitness as an operator.

It contended that the application was for a different type and size of O-licence than Randolph, and claimed Edward Tottenham had no managerial role in Randolph Transport.

The company’s lawyer told the Upper Tribunal that the appellant, although the son of a disqualified director, was “entitled to apply for a goods vehicle operator’s licence and to run a transport business” himself.

In the Upper Tribunal’s written decision, Judge Kenneth Mullan said it had no hesitation in upholding the TC’s decision as she was entitled to take into account the information in her possession about the director’s relationships with disqualified persons.

“She did not, as had been suggested, over-emphasise individual personal relationships,” the judge added.

The Upper Tribunal also found the TC was right to take into account family connections when determining the fitness or repute of the company.

Mullan said: “We can see why the application would be bound to fail on the basis of the lack of suitability of Edward Tottenham, as sole director of the appellant company, to hold a goods vehicle operator’s licence.

“Additionally, the evidence shows he is a beginner and wholly inexperienced in the management of a goods vehicle operator.”

Summing up: The TC was right to determine there would be a risk that the disqualified directors would get involved in the business if it was granted an O-licence.