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TELEHANDLER CRUSHED CAR KILLING OCCUPANT

Developer and driver prosecuted after forklift collapse ends in tragedy 

Linden Limited, of Hillingdon, has been ordered to pay over £32,000 in fines and prosecution costs whilst plant operator, Keith Payne, has been fined £14,500 after an incident on a site in Banbury which left one man dead and two others severely injured.

Linden Limited was the project principal contractor and Mr Payne worked as a self-employed construction plant operator. On the 11 January 2008 three workmen were sitting in a car waiting for a building plot to be unlocked.

Meanwhile, Keith Payne, was undertaking routine checks on a telehandler. Mr Payne raised and fully extended the unloaded telehandler boom as part of what he considered to be his routine daily checks.

During this operation the truck overturned and the forks at the end of the boom landed on the car, crushing the roof of the vehicle where ceramic tilers, Michael Whateley, Robert Whateley and Paul Keen, from Northampton were waiting.

Michael Whateley died from his injuries. Robert Whateley suffered fractures to his spine, and a brain injury. Paul Keen suffered neck and spinal injuries, a broken ankle, broken ribs and a fractured breastbone.

Machine not on firm level ground nor properly maintained

HSE investigators found that the incident could have been prevented if Mr Payne had ensured the telehandler was being operated on firm level ground – as stated in the machine manual.

Linden Limited failed to ensure the equipment was maintained properly and tyre pressures were found to be lower than recommended.

Following the hearing, HSE Inspector James Powell said:

“This was a horrific accident that was totally avoidable. Construction sites have inherent risks, and even rough-terrain lift trucks have strict operational limits that need to be observed. With competent operation and suitable maintenance, tragedies like this should not happen.

Lives have been destroyed here and today’s sentencing must serve to remind all employers and employees of their duties and responsibilities while using this type of machinery.”

Keith Payne was found guilty of breaching HSW Act 1974 Section 7 and Linden Limited pleaded guilty to Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000.

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