Worker crushed to death by HGV with a ‘raised front grill’

Worker crushed to death; a commercial vehicle company has been ordered to pay £212,500 in fines and costs after one of its workers was killed when a lorry travelling at less than 5km/h crushed him. The company says it aims to learn lessons from what happened in an effort to ensure it is never repeated.

Warwick Crown Court heard Imperial Commercials Limited failed to provide a safe place for its staff to work, failings which led to the death of one its employees, Craig Stewart Dunn, in January 2014.

Mr Dunn, 44, a commercial vehicle technician, was hit by a heavy goods vehicle whose driver could not see what was immediately (up to six metres) in front of him, as the front grill of the HGV he was driving was raised. This was not the first time this practice had been adopted at this site. The court was told that occasionally employees of Imperial Commercials Limited would drive HGV’s around the Wellesbourne site in this unsafe manner.

The driver thought he had just hit a stationary vehicle. On reversing, he realised he had crushed Mr Dunn, who had been working outside Imperial Commercials Limited’s workshop in Loxley Road.

Imperial Commercials Limited, registered at Imperial House, High Street, High Wycombe, was fined £166,000, and ordered to pay £46,500 in costs after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to offences under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Mark Austin said: “The tragic, needless loss of Mr Dunn’s life could have been prevented had Imperial Commercials Ltd properly considered the risks from the movement of heavy goods vehicles at this site, and provided effective segregation of pedestrians from moving vehicles.

“Even though the vehicle that crushed him was travelling at less than 5Km/h, the size and weight of the vehicle left him no chance of survival.

“Companies that work with vehicles of all sizes need to ensure that all pedestrians are able to circulate and work safely at their premises, at all times.”

Since the incident the company has said that, with the help of independent specialists and the HSE, they have set out to learn lessons from what happened in an effort to ensure it is never repeated. A statement from the company said:  “We have worked closely with the police and Health and Safety Executive since the incident in January 2014, in which a valued and popular employee, Craig Dunn, a commercial vehicle technician at our Wellesbourne facility, so tragically lost his life.

“We have also, as far as has been possible, worked to provide support and comfort to Craig’s family and close friends.

“The latter group includes Craig’s colleagues at our Wellesbourne operation and, specifically, the man who was driving the vehicle involved in the incident.”

The statement continued: “In an industry where people and heavy vehicles are required to be in close proximity, we had prided ourselves that Imperial Commercials Limited set standards that were amongst the highest in our sector – a stance supported by our hitherto excellent record.

“This tragedy however, of losing a colleague in these circumstances, has left all of us in the business devastated.

“We are deeply and enduringly aware of the impact Craig’s loss has had on so many people.”

About Jan

Jan has a particular interest in litigation and has been involved in dispute management for over 25 years. Although mediation has its place, it is sometimes necessary to take strong and decisive action to protect Clients, which may involve Court action and enforcement. Jan's other interests and areas of practice are; Fleet and Transportation Law, Motoring Offences and Personal Injury. Having been in the law for over 25 years, there is not much that hasn't crossed her path from minor to complex cases. Jan says 'there is still the thrill of getting a great result for a Client.' She still finds law as interesting today as she did when she started, over 25 years ago.

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