Linton man prosecuted over waste site death

The driver of a loading shovel, who reversed his vehicle into a lorry trailer at a Cambridgeshire waste site, killing its driver, was prosecuted last week (8 August) at Cambridge Magistrate’s Court.

The ‘incident’ took place at Milton Landfill Site on Butt Lane, Milton, on 5 January 2012 and was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The loader hit 34-year-old Mark Nyland, from Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, as he was closing the doors at the rear of his heavy goods vehicle (HGV). He had been emptying the vehicle of waste, and sweeping out debris in a ‘safe area’ on the site, when he sustained severe multiple injuries.

Safety failings

Loader driver Kenneth Miller, an employee of Waste Recycling Group Ltd, from Linton, Cambridgeshire, will serve a 24-week prison sentence for safety failings.

The court was told that Miller had been helping Nyland dump the waste from his trailer; he then towed the trailer to a ‘safe area’ so that Nyland, an HGV driver for a haulage company in Shepshed, Leicestershire, could sweep out the back and tail bar area.

Miller then returned to using the loading shovel to level off the ruts in the ground, moving backwards and forwards, using the bucket of the loader. When he pulled backwards at an angle, the vehicle crushed Nyland against the back of his trailer, causing fatal injuries.

HSE found that Miller had ‘clearly’ failed to take reasonable care while operating a large and potentially dangerous vehicle.

Further to his prison sentence, Miller has been suspended from work for two years, and ordered to pay a contribution towards court costs of £600 after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He will also be tagged with a home curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for three months.

A ‘preventable tragedy’

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Roxanne Barker said: "This was an entirely preventable tragedy that devastated Mr Nyland's partner, parents and family.

"HSE took the rather unusual decision in this case to prosecute an individual rather than a company because it was clear that Kenneth Miller had totally failed to take the care that was necessary when operating a large vehicle on a busy waste site.

"Reversing vehicles have been the cause of many fatalities in workplaces over the years and the risks are well known in industry, and obviously companies have a duty to assess risks and implement safety precautions for their sites. But equally, employees have a duty to take reasonable care for the safety of others, particularly when they are operating dangerous machinery."

HSE’s ‘Statistics on fatal injuries in the workplace 2012/3’ publication, released in July 2013, found that 10 workers and three members of the public suffered fatal injuries in the waste and recycling sector in 2012/13, compared with an average of six deaths in the past five years.

To reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured in the waste and recycling industry, HSE has published the ‘Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) blueprint 2012-15’, which outlines 24 ‘immediate action points’ that companies dealing with waste and recycling need to take to provide clearer training and safer workplaces.