The director of a telegraph pole erection firm has been disqualified for eight years after a serious mechanical issue with one of its trucks saw a pedestrian receive “life-changing” injuries.
The operator, Midland Poling Services, will also have its O-licence revoked from 13 May, following a public inquiry (PI) before West Midlands traffic commissioner (TC) Nick Denton (pictured) last month.
A serious breakdown in the firm’s vehicle maintenance procedures last September resulted in the leg of a lorry-mounted crane colliding with a parked van, pushing the van into a car and trapping a pedestrian.
Police said the incident occurred because the safety catch on the leg was broken, which meant it had moved during the journey so that it was protruding at 45 degrees from the vehicle. Police also found that corrosion showed the safety catch had been broken for some time.
The driver had not seen the problem with the crane as the nearside wide-angle mirror was broken.
Police found numerous issues with the truck and the crane, including several oil leaks; air leaking from the brake valve; a fault with the ABS; an insecure safety control box for the crane; and a damaged front bumper.
A roller brake test by the DVSA found the offside rear brake effort was 40% less than that of the nearside rear brake.
The police vehicle examiner described the condition of the truck as the worst he had seen in many years.
The company had appeared before the TC previously and undertakings had been attached to its O-licence in respect of regular audits, weekly safety inspections, driver defect reporting systems and maintenance documentation.
A visit to the Stafford-based operator in December found the truck that had been involved in the collision had not been inspected for 13 weeks.
Driver defect reports showed drivers had reported worn anti-roll bar bushes on another truck, but it was not clear if this had been rectified, and it took the operator more than a month to replace worn brake pads on the same vehicle.
Safety inspections were being carried out every six weeks, rather than the promised four weeks.
Director Gavin Bentley told the PI he had thought the previous undertakings had been dropped in 2014, and admitted he had delegated vehicle matters to another person at the business.
The TC said Bentley had failed to establish a culture of safety within the company, even after being called to public inquiry in 2008 and receiving a warning in 2012.
Denton described the operator as “extraordinarily negligent” and said the collision stemmed from a systematic failure in its ability to treat maintenance with the seriousness it required.
The TC said: “The company has operated seriously unroadworthy vehicles throughout most of the life of the licence and has failed to instill the necessary culture of safety.
“My degree of trust in the operator is so small and my concern for the risk it poses to safety is so great that I am giving less than the normal 28 days notice of revocation.”