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Heavy fine for Suez safety breach

Waste firm Suez has been fined £200,000 plus costs after an employee was struck by a 7.5-tonne telehandler. 

Preston Crown Court heard in a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) that the company, then known as Sita UK, failed to provide adequate segregation between pedestrians and moving vehicles at a waste transfer station in Darwen.

As the employee crossed an outside plastics hand-sorting area, he passed behind a stationary telehandler, which began to reverse and knocked him to the ground. He was then run over by the vehicle’s rear wheel causing injuries that resulted in a two-month stay in hospital.

HSE inspector Stuart Kitchingman said: “Employers need to look carefully at their workplaces regularly to make sure that pedestrian routes are clearly marked and physically separated from vehicle routes wherever possible.”

Suez pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was additionally ordered to pay £11,998 in costs.

The company said in a statement that it took responsibility for the incident and that “while there were several mitigating factors, which the court took into account in making its decision, we accept that this regrettable accident, and the injuries sustained by our employee, could and should have been avoided”.

Suez said it had invested significantly in health and safety and so was “deeply disappointed that this incident occurred at Darwen, but wish to assure all of our stakeholders that lessons have been learned from this incident and those lessons shared and applied throughout the business”. 

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