Company fined £2m after customer died in builders’ yard

A leading builders’ merchants has been fined £2 million following the death of a Leighton Buzzard man at its Milton Keynes premises.

Customer Mark John Pointer, 44, of Shenley Hill Road died after being crushed by a company vehicle at the premises of Travis Perkins Trading Company Limited in Old Wolverton in November 2012.

The tragic accident occurred when Mr Pointer was loading planks of wood onto the roof rack of his Land Rover when he fell backwards onto the yard surface.

It appears that one of the cargo straps he was using snapped. He was then run over by the wheels of a company vehicle operating in the yard. He died from crushing injuries.

The company appeared before Amersham Crown Court yesterday (Wednesday) for sentence, after previously pleading guilty to two offences under various sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The company initially denied the causal link between the offences and the death but subsequently conceded that point.

As well as the fine the company was also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £114,812.76.

Following the hearing, the investigating officer Martin Brown, environmental health team leader with Milton Keynes Council, said: “We are pleased with the result and fine imposed as it reiterates the importance of treating health and safety seriously.

“While the term ‘health and safety’ is often incorrectly associated with trivial matters, true health and safety breaches can have devastating consequences as they did on this occasion.

“Individuals falling whilst loading and unloading vehicles is a common risk.

“The company had failed to ensure loading and unloading activities were undertaken in a safe manner in a safe area.”

In sentencing the company, Judge Justin Cole said he took the view that this “was an accident waiting to happen”.