Tipper worker’s death "should have been prevented"
Kent aggregates specialist Moores Turf and Top Soil has been ordered to pay more than £180,000 in fines and costs after a worker was killed by dangerous lifting equipment on a tipper truck.
In a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Canterbury Crown Court was told how Brian Peek, 57, from Ashford, sustained fatal injuries while unloading bags of hardcore and aggregate for the firm at a domestic address in Wittersham, Kent, in November 2006. The lorry was fitted with a small crane and clam shell bucket, which he used to grab the bags and lower them to the ground. As Peek unloaded the final bag, he leant over the back of the vehicle and the crane slew around, trapping his neck between the bucket and the back of the lorry’s tipping body. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
An HSE investigation found the equipment supplied to Peek was in a poor state of repair and that the system of work employed to unload bulk bags of aggregate and hardcore was unsafe. The incident could have been prevented had more suitable equipment been provided for the unloading task, such as a flatbed lorry and forklift truck. Moores had such equipment available for use, but sent the crane-mounted tipper instead.
The firm, based in Romney Marsh, was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay £97,791 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
After sentencing, HSE principal inspector Mike Walters said that had Moores Turf and Top Soil taken time to properly assess the risks associated with the delivery of bulky bags of hardcore and aggregate, it would have become clear that a safer method of working could have been used. He added: “Brian Peek’s death could and should have been prevented. The lifting equipment on the lorry was badly maintained and wasn’t safe for use. It was also unnecessary because the firm had equipment more suited to the job, which could have been used instead. Employers must ensure that they maintain lifting equipment, and that they provide their employees with the most suitable and appropriate equipment for the tasks they undertake. They must also ensure that safe systems of work are followed on site during the unloading of goods from vehicles.”