Company fined £25k for ‘blindingly obvious’ safety failings

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A transport company in Great Billington has been fined £25,000 following a workplace accident in which an employee broke six ribs.

Operations manager Richard Burns was working at BS Trailer Services Ltd on Kings Farm Industrial Estate, Stanbridge Road, on September 15, 2015, when a tractor accidentally reversed into him in the yard as it attempted to hook on to a trailer.

Today at Luton Magistrates Court, District Judge Carolyn Mellanby said: “The site was crying out for a far better traffic management system than was in place.”

In a victim impact statement, Mr Burns blamed a “communication breakdown” between himself and the tractor driver for the accident.

However, a subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found a series of health and safety failings at the site. These included a lack of a traffic management system and risk assessments, inadequate road markings, and four companies based on the industrial estate all using the same access route as heavy good vehicles.

It also emerged the tractor driver did not have an HGV licence and no qualified training.

BS Trailer Services pleaded guilty to two contraventions of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was sentenced earlier today.

Judge Mellanby noted that the company had fully co-operated with the HSE investigation and taken a financial hit of £312,000 after investing money on “long overdue measures” – such as hiring safety consultants, “state of the art equipment” as well as not renewing the leases of two companies renting space at the site.

A specific vehicle has also been allocated for moving trailers in the yard, with a fully trained staff member appointed.

The defence described the company as a responsible employer of around 40 people, and added that Mr Burns has made a full recovery and is back at work.

In addition to a fine of £25,000, BS Trailer Services Ltd was also made to pay the costs of the HSE investigation as well as a surcharge, leading to a bill of £26,719.50 in total.