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£300k fine for skip drop fatality

10 Jun 13 A Sheffield company that crushes construction and demolition waste has been fined £300,000 after an employee was killed by an overturning skip lorry in Derbyshire.

David Vickers, 37, of Walton, was tipping a skip at Adis Scaffolding Ltd's site in Markham Lane, Duckmanton, when the incident happened on 22 July 2008.

Derby Crown Court heard last week (7 June) that Mr Vickers had got out of the cab of the truck he was driving to deploy the rear stabilisers before raising a skip using the lifting arms. However, as he did so the vehicle overturned and landed on top of him, causing fatal injuries. He died at the scene.

A subsequent investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found the skip was mis-hooked, with the hooks engaging on the lip of a base plate rather than a catch bar, the correct part of the skip. This meant that it tipped normally until reaching an angle of approximately 70 degrees, at which point it broke free and swung out backwards causing the front of the vehicle to lift several feet off the ground. During the course of tipping the offside outrigger retracted causing the lorry to tip over.

The HSE also established that there was no safe system of work for the skip operation, including how to handle mis-hooks and other foreseeable problems. It also found that there was inadequate training and instruction; that the skip lorry controls were not marked; and that the risk assessment for loading and unloading skips fell short of identifying all significant risks and controls.

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Adis Scaffolding, now in liquidation but formerly of Queen Street, Sheffield, was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay £124,468 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the hearing HSE inspector Edward Walker said: "The failings by Adis Scaffolding Limited were substantial, ranging from unsuitable equipment, an inadequate risk assessment, inadequate training and instruction, and an absence of safe systems of work.

"These failings led to a situation where things went badly wrong, and where David was placed in an impossible situation. His tragic death could easily have been avoided with better planning, management and foresight."

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