Waste firms fined £140,000 following workplace fatality
Two waste management companies were fined a total of £140,000 at the Old Bailey on 30 March 2005. The fine followed a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation into an incident where Mr Thomas Akwasi Aseidu-Ampofoh was crushed to death under a telescopic reach truck.
The incident took place at Environmental Tyre Disposals Ltd's (ETD) tyre recycling site at Stonehill Business Park, Edmonton, London on 1 July 2001, where MIDCO Waste Management Ltd (MIDCO) also operate a tyre shredding business. Mr Aseidu, who was employed by ETD, was instructed to support MIDCO staff in shredding tyres. It was during this operation, whilst Mr Aseidu was driving a telescopic reach truck using it to push tyres towards the shredder (to be placed in the shredder by a crane operated by a MIDCO employee), that it toppled over crushing him between the side of the truck and the ground.
The investigation found that both companies failed to take adequate measures to prevent or control risks arising from the use of the truck by untrained operators. Simon Hester, HSE Investigating Inspector. commented:
"Mr Aseidu was employed by ETD primarily as a tyre checker. He was not trained to operate the loader which was the task he undertook on that day and which cost him his life. The people best placed to make workplaces safe from harm are the managers and staff who work in them, but only if they are aware of the dangers and risks and how to work safely when those risks arise. A risk assessment, adequate supervision and suitable training were all absent in this case. This left the level of safety provided by both companies far below the required standard. Both companies have now addressed these shortcomings but I am convinced that if these simple steps had been taken, Mr Aseidu's death would have been prevented."
Environmental Tyre Disposals Ltd of Taplow, Maidenhead, Berks, pleaded guilty on 11 November 2004 at City of London Magistrates' Court to a charge under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act etc 1974 (HSWA) in that it failed to take reasonably practicable precautions to ensure the safety at work of its employees including Mr Aseidu. The company today received a fine of £70,000.
MIDCO Waste Management Ltd of Hinckley, Leicestershire pleaded guilty on 11 November 2004 at City of London Magistrates' Court to a charge of breaching section 2(1) of the HSWA in that it failed to take reasonably practicable precautions to ensure the safety at work of their employees, and a charge of breaching section 3(1) of HSWA in that it failed to ensure that persons not in their employment including Mr Aseidu were not exposed to risks to their health and safety. The company received a fine of £70,000.
ETD and MIDCO were ordered to pay HSE's costs of £29,982 together with a compensation award of £3,492 to Mr Aseidu's brother for funeral expenses and a bereavement order made to his widow of £7,500.
Section 2(1) of HSWA states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
Section 3(1) of HSWA states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not exposed to risks to their health or safety."
The maximum penalty in the Crown Court for a single offence of breaching section 2 or section 3 of HSWA is an unlimited fine.
Further information on conducting risk assessments is available from the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/ pubns/raindex.htm
Further information on preventing the four common vehicle incident types (vehicle strikes, overturns, falling people and falling objects) can be found at the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/index.htm