Bolton recycling firm heavily fined after worker crushed between vehicles

by Direct 2 Lawyers on June 12, 2013

A paper manufacturer based in northern England has been heavily fined after one of its workers was seriously injured in an accident.

A Bolton-based firm has been heavily fined and ordered to pay substantial costs after the Manchester Crown Court found that it was guilty of seriously breaching health and safety laws, resulting in a severe injury to a worker.

The unnamed 61-year-old worker worked for the Bolton-based DS Smith Paper Ltd as a truck-driver until the incident that resulted in the injury occurred on 26 February 2010.

The Manchester Crown Court heard that the worker had driven into the tipping area depot on 26 February 2010 and had just unloaded his load of paper. He exited the truck to close the rear doors, doing so by using two buttons on the side of the vehicle. However, as he did this another truck reversed into the tipping area through a different entrance and – not seeing the worker – trapped him between both vehicles. This resulted in serious injuries to the worker, including fractured ribs, a fractured right collar bone, a punctured right lung and multiple bruising.

The Health and Safety Executive were subsequently informed of the accident and an investigation was started into the circumstances of the injury. This investigation resulted in a recommendation that DS Smith Paper be prosecuted for a breach of the Workspace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 for failing to make sure that the site was safe for vehicles and pedestrians. Under Regulation 17(1) of the Workspace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 every workplace should be organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles can circulate in a safe manner.

The case came before the Manchester Crown Court this month and a judgment was given yesterday by the court. DS Smith Paper Ltd was found guilty of a breach of Regulation 17(1) of the Workspace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was sentenced to pay a fine of £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £49,822, as well as bearing its own costs.

It is not currently known whether the 61-year-old worker is intending to submit a personal injury claim against his employer.

Marc Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans employment solicitors, commented on the case that “employers have strong obligations to ensure that the health and safety of its employees is not compromised by the design of its workplace. This case demonstrates that employers are potentially liable to both criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits if they fail to take the necessary reasonably practicable steps to ensure that their workforce isn’t endangered by poor working practices”.

A Health and Safety Executive inspector, Mr David Norton, commented after the hearing that “the driver suffered horrific injuries as a result of this negligence, and this case should serve as a lesson to other companies working with large vehicles to ensure that the correct safety procedures are in place”.

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