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PRISON SENTENCE FOR SUPPLIER OF UNSAFE PLANT

Landscaping contractor died when defective skip loader overturned

A businessman has been given a suspended prison sentence for supplying unsafe construction equipment that led to the death of a 47-year-old landscaping contractor in September 2011.

Ken Pinkerton was crushed and died when a skip loader he was operating toppled whilst working on a landscaping project in Surrey. The loader was hired with a mini-digger from Brian Beavis, trading as Heavy Plant Repairs, of Canterbury, Kent.

Mr Pinkerton was using the mini-digger when it turned over. He used the skip loader to upright the digger when it went backwards, reversed over material and tipped over. He was thrown from his seat and sustained fatal injuries.

Guildford Crown Court was told (8 March) that HSE investigators identified key flaws with the skip loader including:

  • the absence of a seat belt;
  • roll-over protection that could not be operated; and
  • missing spring which prevented the engine cover being secured.

In addition, Mr Beavis failed to provide any user information for the construction equipment he had supplied.

Seat belt and rollover bar would have saved workman

Brian Peter Beavis, t/a Heavy Plant Repairs, of Canterbury, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was given a nine months’ prison sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to Mr Pinkerton’s partner.

In passing sentence, Mr Recorder Nelson QC said:

“It is just tragic that six children lost their dad. The deceased would likely have survived had there been a seat belt and rollover bar.”

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Amanda Huff said:

“This was a tragic incident that devastated Mr Pinkerton’s family and left six children, the youngest only five at the time, without their father.

Brian Beavis could have prevented the incident by making sure that the skip loader was properly maintained and safe. Skip loaders are at risk of rolling when they are used on uneven ground. Had the machine had a working seat belt and functioning roll-over protection, it is probable Mr Pinkerton would have survived the crash.

Businesses who hire out mobile plant must ensure that is in a safe condition and provide proper safety and user instructions to the customer. Anyone wanting to hire plant would be well advised to check all the safety features are in place and that clear instructions are available.”

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