Training failures resulted in HGV driver’s crush death at skip hire firm

A woman was killed almost instantly when she was crushed between two vehicles during a routine loading operation at Leicestershire skip hire company MAC Skip Hire, a hearing has found.

Beverley Upton, 45, a heavy goods vehicle driver at Tamworth-based MAC Skip Hire, was trying to remove some overhanging waste from a shovel loader that was loading her lorry when she was crushed between the two vehicles, Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard last week.

The court heard that, on 4 November 2015, a piece of carpet had become lodged against the top edge of the lorry during the loading procedure at the company’s site in Hinckley. Upton got out of her cab, while not wearing any high visibility clothing, and tried to drag the carpet down manually.

A coroner’s inquest into the incident carried out in 2016 found that the driver of the loader, who had 25 years of experience operating similar equipment, then tried to use the vehicle’s bucket to drag the carpet free, not seeing that Upton was still in the area. She became trapped between the bucket and the side of the truck, and died almost instantly as a result of her injuries.

The coroner’s report noted that there was ‘no clear written guidance requiring drivers to stay in their cabs during loading’ or enforcement of the rule that workers should wear high visibility

clothing and said that there was ‘need for proper training to be given to those people whose task it was to assess risk, draft health and safety documentation, and who provided training to staff on risk and health and safety matters’.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had failed to implement and follow systems and site rules for loading operations, at their Leicester Road, Hinckley site, which resulted in a failure to suitably segregate pedestrians and vehicles.

MAC Skip Hire was last week fined £60,000 and made to pay costs of £14,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Mark Austin said: “This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure to ensure that basic site controls and rules were being managed and enforced, such that pedestrians were not at risk from these large vehicles working in the area.”

Working around moving vehicles is one of the areas that the HSE has stressed must improve in the waste industry, which is one of the most dangerous sectors in the UK, with 14 people being fatally injured in workplace accidents in 2016/17, more than double the previous year’s six deaths.

In addition, an average of 5,000 workers in the industry have sustained injuries and 6,000 have suffered from work-related illnesses every year since 2009, according to figures published by the HSE.

In a bid to improve these figures, the HSE has created a sector plan based on furthering engagement with and promotion for the Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum, a multi-party group of organisations representing the waste and recycling industry which provides easy access to waste related health and safety guidance.

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