In a blunt reminder of the risks of using vehicles without proper planning, management or monitoring, a firm has been fined £800,000 after a worker was crushed by a reversing truck.

The court heard how two brothers were trying to move a broken-down scissor lift on a Heathrow Airport service road. They tried to tow it away using a dumper truck.

But the driver’s foot got stuck between the brake and accelerator. He suddenly reversed and fatally struck his brother who was standing between the two vehicles.

Uncertified work and poor supervision

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found:

  • neither worker had a permit to use the dumper truck
  • the operation wasn’t properly overseen or managed.

The company had safe systems of work in place but they weren’t satisfactorily followed. Inadequate site supervision led to the employee’s death.

Laing O’Rourke Construction Limited pleaded guilty to breaking Health & Safety regulations.

Under sentencing guidelines, fines are largely based on an organisation’s size. Laing O’Rourke’s turnover meant it could have been given a bigger fine. But the judge reduced it by one-third after taking into account the fact that the firm accepted responsibility and co-operated with the HSE.

The company was fined £800,000 and ordered to pay costs of £10,000.

The HSE said the firm “did nothing to address the trend of these workers carrying out tasks they weren’t trained or authorised for”.

It added that had there been appropriate supervision then the two vehicles could have been better kept apart. The investigation found the site manager had left the scene by the time of the incident.

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