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May 26, 2010

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SITA handed big fine for crush death

A waste management company has been fined £210,000 after a lorry driver was crushed to death at a Northamptonshire landfill site.

On 4 January 2007, Gary Carter, 32, arrived at SITA UK Ltd’s Cranford landfill site to empty his refuse lorry. His vehicle had to be towed by a bulldozer to the tipping area, as the ground at the site was soft due to wet weather.

Once he arrived at the tipping area he released part of his load but, in order to dispose of the rest of the refuse, he needed to move the lorry forwards as it had become bogged down in the soft ground.

The driver of a compactor, which was crushing rubbish behind the lorry, radioed Mr Carter and offered to drive to the rear of the lorry and push it forwards with his own vehicle. Mr Carter did not reply to the message but gave a ‘thumbs up’ signal to the compactor driver.

At the same time, the bulldozer reversed up to the front of Mr Carter’s lorry to pull it out of the soft ground. Mr Carter got out of the lorry and began attaching a tow rope from the bulldozer to the front of his vehicle. While he was doing this, the compactor started to push the lorry forward and he was crushed in between his vehicle and the back of the bulldozer. He died at the scene.

The HSE’s investigation found that new working arrangements had been introduced a few days before the accident, without having been properly risk assessed. It also discovered that SITA had not defined the supervisory roles for their staff on the site and that site rules on pushing lorries were ambiguous.

HSE inspector Roy Bush said: “Every company has a legal responsibility to take care of people working on their site, whether they are employed by them or not, in whatever circumstances they are asked to operate.

“Assessing risks, mitigating them wherever possible, or stopping work as appropriate is the least people should expect from companies. Employers need to ensure their staff understand their roles and responsibilities in making sure sites like this operate to clear site safety rules.

“In this case, the prosecution shows that this has not happened and Mr Carter’s family has lost him as a result.”

SITA UK Ltd appeared at Northampton Crown Court on 24 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay full costs of £38,000.

SHP contacted the company but nobody was available to comment. 

SITA was fined £180,000 in December 2008, after an employee was decapitated after falling into a baling machine at its recycling centre in Cricklade, Wiltshire.

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14 years ago

Oh look- Sita again.

14 years ago

This is daft. 3rd fatality in 3 years and the 4th court appearance in 10 years and the fine applied here is £10K lower than the previous fatality. So if you keep on killing people the fines go down each time?. I can’t think of any other offences where justice works that way.

Marcos; follow the link in the article.

14 years ago

Fattyshack, do you have more information about SITA health and safety breaches? I would be very interested if so, drop me a line…. Cheers, M.