A Kent company has been ordered to pay out over £180,000 in costs and fines after a worker was killed whilst delivering building materials to a domestic address in November 2006.
Mr Brian Peek, 57, of Ashford address, was working for Moores Turf & Top Soil Limited as a delivery driver when the accident occurred on 20 November 2006. At the time of the accident he was supervising the unloading of bags of hardcore and aggregates at a domestic address, which entailed using a small crane and bucket shell on the lorry to grab the bags and lower them onto the ground. However, as Mr Peek unloaded the last bag he leaned over the back of the lorry to check its delivery and the crane swung round, trapping his neck. The injuries he sustained were fatal and he was pronounced dead by medical practitioners at the scene of the accident.
The Health and Safety Executive was subsequently notified of the accident and an investigation was commenced. This investigation found that the company was responsible for potential breaches of health and safety regulations, such as the fact that the equipment supplied to Mr Peek was in a poor state of repair and that the system of work used by the company’s employees to unload the bags was unsafe. The investigation also found that if more suitable equipment had been used by the firm then the incident could have been prevented and that the firm actually did have more appropriate equipment that could have been used in the circumstances. A prosecution into Moores Turf & Top Soil Limited for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The case came before the Canterbury Crown Court on 9 September 2013. The company pleaded guilty to breaches of s.2(1) and s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc and it was fined £85,000 and ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs of a further £97,791, to bring the total payable to over £180,000.
There does not appear to have been any comment from the firm’s criminal defence solicitors after the hearing – a point which in itself, though, is not unusual.
HSE Principal Inspector Mr Mike Walters stated: “Brian Peek’s tragic death could and should have been prevented. The lifting equipment on the lorry was badly maintained and simply wasn’t safe for use. It was also unnecessary because the firm had better equipment more suited to the job, which could have been used instead.”
Chris Hadrill, a solicitor at Redmans, commented: “Employers have an obligation to comply with health and safety regulations such as the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 so far as is reasonably practicable in order to minimize the risk to its employees’ and visitors’ health, welfare and wellbeing. The Crown Court clearly felt in this instance that Mr Peek’s employer had failed to take those reasonably steps and therefore failed in its duty to its employees.”