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Veolia fined after ‘preventable’ death

Veolia’s Sheffield subsidiary has been fined £750,000 with £11,981 costs following a “preventable” worker death.

Veolia ES Sheffield pleaded guilty to one offence and was sentenced at Preston Crown Court after a worker and father-to-be was crushed to death by one of its refuse collection vehicles (RCVs).

The court heard that in May 2014, at blacksmiths and welders John Fowler and Son (JFS) in Lancashire, an operative closed the vehicle’s tailgate on employee Rick Calsen, who was at the rear of the vehicle, fatally crushing him.

Investigating body the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Veolia failed in its inspection regime, which did not systematically review the functionality of a 1m safety limit switch on its relevant vehicles.

Had the fault with the 1m safety limit switch been identified and rectified at Veolia, the tailgate would not have been able to close.

The HSE also found the fatal injury occurred due to a poor system of work at JFS, derived from a lack of a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, including failure to prop the tailgate adequately.

JFS also pleaded guilty to one offence and was fined £65,000 with £12,443 costs.

HSE inspector Rohan Lye said after the hearing: “This tragic incident was entirely preventable.

“Veolia’s failure to include the functionality of a manufacturer-stated safety-critical device on its RCVs in its maintenance regimes resulted in an inability to relay information to any third party about its presence and condition.

“Therefore it exposed non-employees to unnecessary risk and ultimately contributed to this appalling loss of life.”

A Veolia spokesperson said: “We would like to express our deepest sympathies to Richard Calsen’s family and friends. As a company we treat health and safety as the highest priority.

“A review of all relevant safety procedures was carried out after this incident, and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure the highest standards are met for all our vehicle and maintenance operations.”

Veolia ES Sheffield, of Pentonville Road, London, was found guilty of breaching Regulation 6(2) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

John Fowler and Son (Blacksmiths and Welders), of Bexley Square, Salford, Manchester, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

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