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Viridor fined more than £230,000 after lorry driver death

Viridor has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a 56-year-old employee was killed by his own vehicle, on which the handbrake had been left off.

The incident happened in June 2015 as the employee, Lee Jane, was using his vehicle and trailer to remove skips of ash from the incinerator at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

The lorry had been parked on a downward sloping road outside the incinerator building. As Jane exited his cab and attached the skip trailer, the vehicle and trailer started to roll downhill.

Jane attempted to stop the lorry, but was drawn under the trailer and sustained fatal injuries. The lorry carried on and smashed into a hospital radio building.

An HSE investigation revealed the lorry’s handbrake had not been applied. The investigation also found that there was “no suitable and sufficient specific risk assessment to address the waste collection operation on-site and, in consequence, the work had not been appropriately planned”.

The HSE brought a number of charges under health and safety legislation against Viridor Waste Management.

At a trial at Plymouth Crown Court, the company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 in relation to the failure to conduct a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the work being undertaken.

The company was fined £237,500 and ordered to pay costs of £128,428.94. It was found not guilty of two other charges.

HSE inspector Georgina Speake said: “This was a tragic death and Viridor Waste Management should have conducted a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks posed by this operation.

“In particular, the company failed to properly assess the suitability of the location which drivers were using for the skip collection operation.

“Both HSE and industry guidance suggest that tasks like this should be carried out on firm and level ground. It is my view that there were level areas within the hospital grounds that the defendant should have identified and designated for the drivers to load the skips and couple the trailer.

“The fact that the location chosen was on an incline heightened the need for careful risk assessment, and this was not done.”

A Viridor spokesperson said: “The death of our colleague Lee Jane was a tragedy, and our thoughts continue to be with his family and friends following their devastating loss.

“Today’s court outcome found Viridor not guilty of two major charges, but the company pleaded guilty to a charge relating to a site-specific risk assessment, which did not cause Lee’s tragic death.

“We recognise that, with the benefit of hindsight, the risk assessment associated with this case could have been more focused and we have taken action to address this.

“Health, safety and well-being are priorities, and we will continue to take reasonable steps to safeguard our people as they go about their work.”

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