UK waste management company SEUZ, formerly known as SITA UK, has been fined £200,000 following an incident involving an employee and one of their telehandler vehicles.
It is alleged that the employee was walking through a sorting area at the SEUZ waste transfer station in Darwen, Lancashire when a telehandler weighing 7.5 tonnes reversed into him. The impact knocked the employee to the floor and he was run over by the rear wheel of the vehicle. Although his injuries were not fatal, the employee was hospitalised for two months and currently has severe mobility problems.
At a hearing at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday 13 October, it was held that SEUZ failed to provide adequate segregation between pedestrians and moving vehicles, contrary to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The Act imposes a duty on every employer to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all employees. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) stated that SEUZ had identified the risks but had failed to put in reasonable controls to stop such an incident from occurring.
SEUZ pleaded guilty to the health and safety offence and were fined £200,000 and ordered to pay a further £11,998 in costs. SEUZ implemented their ‘Safety in Mind’ programme in 2009, something which was believed to have made a great overall improvement to health and safety within the business.
In a statement released on Friday 15 October, a spokesman for the company said, “while there were several mitigating factors, which the court took into account in making its decision, we accept that this regrettable accident, and the injuries sustained by our employee, could and should have been avoided.”
SUEZ assured its stakeholders that the lessons that have been learned from this incident and its aftermath will be shared and applied throughout the business.
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