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EQUIPMENT AND WORK SYSTEM CAUSED DEATH

Aggregates firm fined over lorry crane fatal crushing incident  

Moores Turf & Top Soil Limited has been ordered to pay more than £180,000 in fines and costs after a workman died whilst using dangerous lifting equipment on a tipper lorry. Brian Peek, aged 57, sustained fatal injuries whilst unloading bags of hardcore and aggregate in November 2006.

The vehicle was fitted with a small “crane and clam shell bucket” which was used to grab the bags and lower them to the ground. Mr Peek was unloading the final bag when he leant over the back of the lorry and the crane slewed around. It trapped his neck between the bucket and the back of the lorry tipping body and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Canterbury Crown Court heard (9 September) that HSE investigators found the equipment used was in a poor state of repair and that the system of work employed to unload bulk bags of aggregate and hardcore was unsafe.

The incident could have been prevented by use of more suitable equipment for the unloading task e.g. flatbed lorry and forklift truck which was available to the company. 

Vehicle badly maintained and simply unsafe to use

Moores Turf & Top Soil Limited, of Callington Court Farm, Romney Marsh, was fined a total of £85,000 and ordered to pay a further £97,791 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After sentencing, HSE Principal Inspector Mike Walters said:

“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.

Had Moores Turf & Top Soil taken time to properly assess the risks associated with the delivery of bulky bags of hardcore and aggregate, it would have become clear that a safer method of working was necessary and could be used.

Employers must ensure that they properly maintain lifting equipment, and that they provide their employees with the most suitable and appropriate equipment for the tasks they undertake. They must also ensure that safe systems of work are followed on site during the unloading of goods from vehicles.”

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