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News added on 27.11.2019

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Tipping vehicles require appropriate control measures

The dangers of workplace vehicles overturning have been highlighted in two recent HSE enforcement cases. Were there any similarities between these serious accidents?

The first case concerned an accident on a building site. Mr Green, who was a groundworker for Rose Builders Ltd, was manoeuvring a front-tipping dumper truck on a spoil heap to offload topsoil, when he lost control of it. The nine tonne truck toppled forwards and came to rest upside down at the base of the spoil heap. Mr Green sustained a serious head injury and died at the scene.

When the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated, it found several major deficiencies in the management of tipping operations on the spoil heaps at the site:

  • the operation was not properly planned
  • drivers were not given adequate instruction or training in operating and tipping vehicles safely
  • the job was poorly supervised; and
  • Mr Green did not have his seat belt fastened, as was common practice on the site.

Rose Builders Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching its duties under ss.2(1) and 3(1)  Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of employees and others. The company was fined £225,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £11,800.

The second accident occurred at the premises of an egg production company, Staveley’s Eggs Ltd. An employee was driving a fork lift truck, which overturned. The employee was trapped between the truck and the ground, suffering life-changing crush injuries.

In this case, the HSE’s investigation found that there were significant changes in gradient in the areas in which fork lift trucks were being operated, making it an unsuitable surface for the type of truck being used. The company had failed to identify and control the risk of the fork lift trucks overturning on this surface.

Staveley’s Eggs Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching its duty to safeguard its employees under s.2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £4,250.

Both accidents involved workplace vehicles that were being driven on inappropriate surfaces, which significantly increased the risk of them overturning. If vehicles have to be operated on an incline or uneven surface, control measures like counterbalance weights, wider wheels and driver protection should be used, or an alternative way of carrying out the work should be found.

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