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Transport firm owner sentenced after death at work

by Redmans Solicitors on October 17, 2013

The owner of a Lancashire transport firm has been fined and ordered to pay costs of a combined value of £55,000 after one of his employees died in the course of employment.

Mr Mark Wintersgill, 25, was working at PPR Transport Services in Lutterworth as a mechanic when the fatal accident occurred on 25 June 2012.

The mechanic was attempting to jack up the axle of a double-decker HGV trailer on the day in question using an air-jack powered by a compressor. He was, however, attempting to jack up the trailer on a concrete ramp – which may have destabilised it. It further appeared from subsequent investigations that Mr Wintersgill may have used two wooden blocks to further increase the height of the jack – another thing which may have destabilised the trailer. He was carrying out the work under the trailer when the trailer rocked forward suddenly and the jack shot out from under the axle, striking Mr Wintersgill in the head. The mechanic was later pronounced dead at the scene from catastrophic head injuries.

It is not currently known whether Mr Wintersgill’s family have attempted to claim personal injury against the firm.

The Health and Safety Executive were subsequently notified of the accident and took steps to investigate the death. This investigation found that there had been a number of health and safety breaches which could have caused or contributed to Mr Wintersgill’s death:

  • A failure to implement a safe system of work
  • A failure to properly control and assess work at the site
  • A failure to provide adequate safety measures, training and equipment

The HSE therefore recommended that the firm be prosecuted for breaching health and safety regulations.

The matter came to the Leicester Crown Court on 15 October 2013. Mr Roberts, 51, pleaded uilty to s.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and, as a result, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £43,000.

HSE Inspector David Lefever stated after the hearing: “This was a tragic incident that could have been prevented had a few basic precautions been taken. Mr Roberts should have ensured that this regular work activity was carried out in a safe location on firm, level ground. He should also have ensured his employees were supplied with the correct equipment and that they were trained in how to use that equipment safely.”

Neither Mr Roberts nor his criminal defence solicitors appear to have commented after the hearing.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented: “Both owners and the companies that they run have obligations to their staff to ensure that the work that their staff are undertaking is – among other things – both adequately supervised and that they are trained in such. A failure to do so could result in a prosecution for failing to comply with health and safety standards.”

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in Richmond, London

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