Canterbury Crown Court was told that John Head, 60, was struck by the reversing vehicle at the company’s household waste recycling depot in Folkestone. He sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene.
The waste and recycling firm was found guilty of breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and must pay £130,000 costs.
A HSE investigation revealed refuse collection vehicle and articulated lorry drivers often manoeuvred around the yard without specific controls in place. It said Veolia had failed to risk assess its yard activities and had not implemented industry-recognised control measures to protect its employees.
Judge Simon James said the “exact mechanism” of how the accident happened is unclear but noted there was no “obvious reason” for Head to have been walking across the yard. Since then Veolia has reviewed and updated its safe system of work following the accident.
Veolia, which had a turnover of £21.77bn in 2017, has implemented a three-year strategic plan to achieve an active risk culture in which its employees are actively engaged and contribute towards collective safety, according to accounts filed at Companies House.
The HSE inspector commented after the hearing, that this should be a reminder to all industries, but in particular the waste industry, to appropriately assess the risks and implement widely recognised control measures to adequately control manoeuvring vehicles, in particular reversing vehicles and restrict pedestrian movements around vehicles.
The company was also fined £250,000 February 2018 after a workshop cleaner with learning difficulties sustained multiple fractures when he was crushed by 17.5-tonne reversing dust cart.
In January 2016 it landed a £450,000 penalty after a waste bale toppled on to an employee, leaving him with brain injuries and fractures to his face and skull.