14th May 2014
Tufnells Parcels Express Ltd has been fined £150,000 and ordered to pay £19,000 in court costs, in events that could give rise to a personal injury claim.
An employee was seriously hurt when a head injury saw his skull get crushed by a reversing lorry at the company's depot in West Horndon, near Brentwood in Essex.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, told Chelmsford Crown Court that in the early hours of March 23rd 2010, Simon Mason, 22, from Romford, Essex was working the nightshift as a warehouse porter.
An articulated 45 foot HGV trailer was being reversed into an open loading bay while Mr Mason waited to unload it.
Mr Mason noticed the trailer was not positioned straight in the bay, so thinking it had stopped moving, he put his head around the back of the trailer to shout instructions to the driver.
Just as he did so, the trailer came back further, crushing his head against the brick bay wall.
Mr Mason received severe head injuries requiring constant care for months and had to undergo several operations. He returned to work in February but is still suffering some long term effects.
HSE's investigation found Tufnells had not assessed, controlled, or properly managed the risks arising from vehicle and equipment movements at its West Horndon depot. It had also failed to provide a safe system of work for its employees.
After the hearing today at Chelmsford Crown Court, HSE Inspector Glyn Davies said:
"Working with moving vehicles is a high risk activity which causes significant numbers of major and fatal injuries every year in this country.
"Tufnells is well aware of these risks and this horrific incident in which a young man could have lost his life would have been avoided had the company's senior management ensured such risks were properly managed in all of its depots.
"This firm could have put in place a physical separation between the porters, moving vehicles and the loading bays and a safe way for porters and drivers to communicate with each other. None of these measures were evident and so a worker was seriously hurt for no good reason."
Last year, 17 workers were killed and more than 530 suffered major injury after being hit by moving vehicles while at work in Great Britain.
Of these, two workers were killed and 130 received major injuries resulting specifically from contact with a reversing vehicle.