Employer's disregard for human life caused death

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A prosecution whereby an employer's lax attitude to the health and safety of his employers was a significant cause of an employee's death. 

To cut a long story short an employee, Mr Darren Baker, died after being hit on the head by a metal loading shovel.  His foreman was using a JCB telehandler to transfer bucket loads of crumbed rubber while in the process of laying a new surface to an outdoor riding arena.  It is normal to use forks rather than the much heavier bucket. 

As his foreman extended the boom the vehicle tipped forward, striking Mr Baker. He died in hospital two days later. 

It transpires that:

  • The total load was double the maximum load permissible.
  • The safe-load indicator was not functioning correctly and did not give off a warning signal.
  • The foreman had not put down the hydraulic stabilisers.
  • The foreman did not know how to use safety charts hanging inside the cab. 
  •  The vehicle was being used without a valid certificate which had run out a month before.  An examiner had been unable to complete his examination because he kept finding additional faults.

I was shocked to read that the employer immediately brought in a subcontractor to complete the works!  No investigation or remedial works were carried out and the same vehicle was used!

It further transpires that the employer had been previously fined in 2002 when a subcontractor died, albeit in different circumstances.

As a result of Mr Baker's death the company was fined £200,000 plus costs of £11,384. This accident was totally avoidable.  In my mind, this was a total disregard for the life of Mr Baker.  Had the previous death not taught them anything?

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