West Sussex waste management firm South Coast Skips Ltd and its owner have been prosecuted after one worker died and another was left seriously injured when they fell from the bucket of an excavator. Reflecting on the case, an HSE inspector said that no one should ever be lifted in the bucket of an excavator as neither the bucket nor the excavator have the necessary safety devices to prevent a person falling.
Chichester Crown Court heard how Lindsay Campbell, a 66-year-old father of ten from Waterlooville in Hampshire, was killed when the bucket of an excavator he was working in tipped causing him to fall nine metres to the ground. Mr Campbell’s colleague, who was in the bucket alongside him also fell and suffered severe leg injuries in the incident on 25 July 2012 at the company’s site at the Rudford Industrial estate in Arundel.
Mr Campbell had carried on working for Kevin Hoare, a director of South Coast Skips despite recently retiring. On the day of the incident he was running an electric cable to power a waste screening machine known as a ‘trommel’.
Mr Campbell decided to run the cable along a previously used route in the rafters of the shed and asked to be lifted in the bucket of an excavator. The excavator driver lifted both Mr Campbell and an agency worker and whilst positioning the cable the hydraulic pressure dropped causing the bucket to tip forward. Both men fell nine metres to the concrete floor.
The court also heard that the bucket of an excavator is not designed to lift people yet nobody on site attempted to stop this activity taking place.
South Coast Skips Ltd of Rudford Industrial Estate, Ford, Arundel pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, 1974 (HASWA,1974) was fined £65,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000.
Mr Kevin Hoare, 65, of Fareham, Hampshire pleaded guilty to section 37 of HASWA, 1974 and was given a 12 month custodial sentence suspended for 18 months.
Mr Campell’s widow said: “Since Lindsay was taken away from us in such an unnecessary and horrifying manner, the family has had a terrible time and we have all been affected. We all miss him, more than words can say, but because of his “can do” attitude to life, that we saw every day and that we do not want to let him or his memory down, we have managed to get through it together, day by day. Even after more than two years, I still miss him terribly and the children have told me that they do also.”
Health and Safety Executive Inspector Graham Goodenough said: “This incident resulted in the death of a man who had only just retired and was looking forward to spending time with his children and grandchildren.
“Nobody should ever be lifted in the bucket of an excavator. Neither the bucket nor the excavator have the necessary safety devices nor fail safe devices that would prevent a person falling.
“This company did not have in place the training and supervision and especially the health and safety culture that ensures that nobody would consider undertaking such an obviously unsafe act such as this, and if they did ask nobody would allow it to happen.
“On average 50 people are killed each year by falls from height, so all companies, whatever their size, must have robust systems in place to prevent unsafe lifting practices. When lifting people only equipment specifically designed for this activity should be used”.
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