Worker killed within hours of starting job

Vehicle recovery and repair company; Essex-based Albert Road Recovery and Repair has been sentenced after a new worker suffered fatal crush injuries during vehicle maintenance work on the first day of his new job.

On 24 November 2014 employee John Glenn was killed when a rigid vehicle fell suddenly from an inadequate axle support prop at Middlemarch Business Park in Coventry.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court was told that a cable reel drum jack was used to support the vehicle, which was not an appropriate piece of equipment for the task being undertaken. The HSE stated that a suitably rated axle stand should have been used. HSE investigators revealed the company failed to:

• Adequately induct the new starter into the business;
• Adequately instruct and supervise him on his first day at work;
• Provide suitable tools and equipment and
• Provide approved vehicle repair equipment.

The now dissolved company was found guilty of breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £20,000, the highest amount available to this court at the time, as the incident took place before an amendment was made to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, removing the limit of fines that can be imposed a Magistrates Court.

Describing the incident as completely avoidable, HSE inspector John Glynn said: “This incident led to the tragic death of John Glenn and occurred within hours of him starting his new job.” He went on to say; “Not only did the company fail to adequately induct the new starter into their business, it failed to adequately instruct and supervise him on his first day and provided him with completely unsuitable tools and equipment. Had the company considered the risks properly, they would have had safe systems of work and approved vehicle repair equipment in place.”

NOTE: Employers operating in the Motor Vehicle Repair (MVT) sector must provide to their employees’ safe plant and safe systems of work. Safe plant means all work equipment must be suitable for the intended purpose and the environment in which it is to be used. The use of axle stands, vehicle jacks and 2-Post and 4-Post vehicle lifts in the vehicle workshop is commonplace. Where used; such equipment must be regularly inspected and (where appropriate subject to Thorough Examination (TE) under LOLER’98. All employers must provide to their employees such information, instruction and training and supervision; as is necessary to ensure their health and safety whilst at work (company induction at the start of their employment) and information and instruction about the employers own safe systems of work. The Company failed to meet these statutory provisions.

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Authors: Ernie Taylor

Published: 20 Jan 2020

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