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.
A 66-year-old man was killed when the bucket of an excavator he was working in tipped causing him to fall nine metres to the ground. His colleague, who was in the bucket alongside him also fell and suffered severe leg injuries in the incident at the company’s site in Arundel.
Chichester Crown Court heard that the man 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’.
He had 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 him 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 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.
The director, Mr Kevin Hoare of Fareham, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to section 37 of HASWA, 1974 and was given a 12 month custodial sentence suspended for 18 months.
The HSE inspector on the case commented that 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.
Unfortunately it seems that this company did not have the training and supervision in place to deal with stopping unsafe practices and management allowed work to go ahead in a dangerous manner. The HSE concluded the business had a poor culture towards health and safety; they had no controls to ensure that nobody would consider undertaking such an obviously unsafe act such as this.