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News added on 16.12.2019

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Safe systems of work

Lack of basic precautions led to death by crushing

A mechanic was crushed to death as he worked underneath a bus in the car park at Chester Zoo. How could this tragic accident have been prevented?

Mr Lannon (L) was employed by Brian Finch (F), trading as FE Coaches. In June 2017 he was sent to attend a double-decker bus that had broken down in the car park of Chester Zoo. The bus was supported by a hydraulic bottle jack and some wooden blocks had also been placed underneath it. L was working underneath the bus when it rolled backwards off the bottle jack, trapping him and causing fatal injuries.

When the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated, it found that FE Coaches did not have a safe system of work in place for preventing the bus from moving. The bus’ parking brake had not been applied before L started working under the bus and the bus was not chocked to prevent it from rolling off the jack.

F had not provided adequate training and instructions to L in mechanical work or the safe lifting of vehicles, and about the type of repairs that could be undertaken outside the workshop.

F pleaded guilty to breaching his duty under s.2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of his employees. He was sentenced to six months in custody, suspended for 18 months, and a curfew between the hours of 7.00pm and 8.00am for 30 weeks. He was also ordered to pay full costs of nearly £9,400.

This employer had no safe system of work for the task and failed to implement simple control measures to prevent the bus from moving while being repaired, such as using chocks. In addition, the employer did not provide the mechanic with the training and information he needed to carry out his work safely.

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