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August 26, 2015

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Transport company fined £150k for work at height breaches following fatality

A Norfolk-based road transport company has been sentenced for safety failings after a driver suffered life-changing injuries which left him in a permanent vegetative state following an incident in Broxbourne, Herts. Keith Brookes, 61, died two years later having never recovered from his injuries.

Mr Brookes, who was 59 at the time of the accident, from Milton Keynes, fell from an unsecured ladder during an operation to unload items from a lorry at the Hertfordshire Golf and Country Club on White Stubbs Lane on 23 November 2012.

Mr Brookes sustained extensive brain damage as well as a broken cheekbone, collarbone and ribs. He was in a coma for four months and in hospital for a further two months. After his release from hospital he needed palliative care in a nursing home and was unable to move, swallow or communicate. He died two years later in December 2014.

The incident was investigated by HSE which prosecuted Mr Brookes’ employer, David Watson Transport Ltd, after finding the company had failed to properly safeguard workers from falls.

At the sentencing it was heard how there were serious failures as far as the supervision of the employees. The judge observed that “the total absence of supervision in this case in my view significantly contributed to the existence of a dangerous state of affairs and thus directly in the chain of causation to the incident itself and the death of Mr Brookes”.

David Watson Transport Ltd of Mundford Road, Weeting, Norfolk, was fined a total of £150,000 at St Albans Crown Court and ordered to pay costs of £88,030.69 after being found guilty to three counts of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

After the case, HSE inspector Sandra Dias, said: “This fall was entirely preventable and resulted in an employee being left in a permanent vegetative state owing to a traumatic brain injury. It was, of course, devastating for his family and friends. Sadly he died two years later.

“The risks of falling from height during unloading lorries is well known across the industry. There is absolutely no excuse for companies to neglect safety. David Watson Transport Ltd’s failure to adequately plan working at height and provide adequate supervision resulted in horrific injuries from which Mr Brookes never recovered.”

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