Industry

Skip company fined £65k after excavator death

A West Sussex waste management company has been fined £65,000 after an employee died and another was left seriously injured when they fell nine metres from the bucket of an excavator.

South Coast Skips Ltd, based in Arundel, was also made to pay costs of £25,000 following a hearing a Chichester Crown Court on Tuesday (3 November). In addition, Kevin Hoare, a director at the company, was handed a 12-month custodial sentence suspended for 18 months.

The court heard how Lindsay Campbell, a 66-year old father of 10 from Waterlooville in Hampshire, was killed after being tipped from the bucket of an excavator on 25 July 2012.

Details of the incident

Skip company fined £65k after excavator deathDespite having recently retired, Campbell had kept working for Hoare, and on the day of the incident was running an electric cable to power a waste screening machine. Campbell decided to run the cable along a previously used route in the rafters of the machine’s shed and asked to be lifted in the bucket of an excavator.

Alongside an agency worker, Campbell was lifted by the excavator, and the two were positioning the cable when the hydraulic pressure dropped, causing the bucket to tip and dropping both men nine metres onto the shed’s concrete floor.

Campbell was killed by the fall, while his colleague, who has not been named, suffered severe leg injuries.

The court heard that the bucket of an excavator is not designed to lift people, but that no attempt was made by anybody on site to stop the men from being lifted.

The company, of Rudford Industrial Estate, Ford, Arundel, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act (HASWA) 1974, which states that employers must not expose employees to risks to their health or safety so far as is reasonably practicable. It was given a fine of £65,000 and made to pay additional costs of £25,000.

Hoare, 65, of Fareham, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to section 37 of the HASWA and was given a 12-month custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months.

The section reads: ‘Where an offence… is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate… he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.’

Company lacked training, supervision and health and safety culture

Health and Safety Executive Inspector Graham Goodenough said: “This incident resulted in the death of a man who had only just retired and was looking forward to spending time with his children and grandchildren.

“Nobody should ever be lifted in the bucket of an excavator. Neither the bucket nor the excavator have the necessary safety devices nor fail-safe devices that would prevent a person falling.

“This company did not have in place the training and supervision and especially the health and safety culture that ensures that nobody would consider undertaking such an obviously unsafe act such as this, and if they did ask nobody would allow it to happen.

“On average, 50 people are killed each year by falls from height, so all companies, whatever their size, must have robust systems in place to prevent unsafe lifting practices. When lifting people only equipment specifically designed for this activity should be used.”