Death from skip lorry results in an extremely heavy fine for Sheffield company

by Redmans Solicitors on June 12, 2013

A Sheffield-based firm has been heavily fined and ordered to pay substantial costs after one of its workers was killed in a workplace accident.

Adis Scaffolding Limited, of Sheffield, was ordered by the Derby Crown Court to pay a substantial fine and the costs of the prosecution after one of its workers was killed by an overturned lorry in its site in Markham Lane, Duckmanton.

The accident which resulted in Mr David Vickers’ death occurred on 22 July 2008. Mr Vickers, 37, worked for Avis Scaffolding as a truck driver and had just driven in to and parked his truck at the Markham Lane site. He had climbed out of the cab of the truck to deploy the rear stabilisers for the truck when it suddenly overturned and landed on top of him, crushing him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

It is not currently known whether Mr Vickers’s family is intending to claim personal injury against the company.

The Health and Safety Executive was subsequently notified of the accident and commenced an investigation into the death. This investigation recommended that a prosecution be initiated and the matter came before the Derby Crown Court last week on 7 June 2013. The Crown Court heard evidence that the skip was mis-hooked, with the hooks attached to the wrong part of the skip. This had caused the skip to break free when it had reached an angle of 70 degrees, with the skip swinging free and causing the front of the vehicle to be lifted off the ground. This was deemed by the HSE to be a clear breach of health and safety. The HSE also found that there was no safe system of work for the skip operation; inadequate training and instruction; and that an inadequate risk assessment for the loading and unloading of skips.

Adis Scaffolding pleaded guilty to a breach of s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, namely that they had failed to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all its employees. The Derby Crown Court sentenced the company to pay a £300,000 fine and ordered the company to pay the prosecution’s costs of £124,468.

An inspector at the Health and Safety Executive, Mr Edward Walker, made the following statement: “The failings by Adis Scaffolding Limited were substantial, ranging from unsuitable equipment, an inadequate risk assessment, inadequate training and instruction, and an absence of safe systems of work”.

Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans, commented on the case: “This is a particularly serious breach of health and safety in the workplace – it resulted in the death of a worker, something that any employer should also seek strenuously to avoid. The Health and Safety Executive identified numerous breaches that led to the death of the worker and his death – combined with the lax health and safety regime – resulted in the relatively large fine visited on the company”.

Redmans offer compromise agreement advice and are based in London

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