Worker crushed by refuse collection vehicle

Two companies were fined £815,000 after a worker who was a father to be was crushed to death by a refuse collection vehicle.

Both of the companies pleaded guilty and were sentenced at crown court, after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The court heard that on 17 May 2014, during a refurbishment task an operative using the controls within the refuse collection vehicle’s cab closed the tailgate on the worker who was at the rear of the vehicle which resulted in fatally crushing him to death.

The RCV was supplied with in-cab controls for raising and lowering the tailgate. The system was designed such that it should not have been possible to completely close the tailgate using the in-cab controls, with a minimum gap of 1m being left between the bottom edges of the body and the tailgate. Examinations revealed a fault with the safety limit switch – it was found to be jammed in the actuated position resulting in it being possible to completely close the tailgate using the in-cab controls.

The HSE investigation found fatal injury occurred due to a poor system of work which derived from a lack of a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks which included failure to prop the tailgate adequately.

Also one of the companies had failed in its inspection regime, which did not effectively review the fuctionality of the 1m safety limit switch (a designated safety  function) on relevant RCV’s. Had the fault with the 1m safety limit switch been spotted  and rectified then the poor system of work employed at the other company would have been unable to result in the closure of the tailgate which caused the worker to get trapped.

The waste management company pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 6(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £750,000 with £11,981 costs.

The blacksmith & welders pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £65,000 with £12,443 costs.

Source: HSE