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Crushed to death by a telehandler

16 Dec 14 Gloucester-based civil engineer contractor Complete Utilities Ltd has been ordered to pay more than £100,000 in fines and costs after an employee was killed at work.

Spencer Powles 62, from Coleford, was pinned between a telehandler and a metal shipping container at the company’s works yard in Maisemore when the vehicle lurched forward.

He suffered severe injuries to his abdomen and was airlifted to hospital, where he died 10 days later.

Gloucester Crown Court heard that the incident, on 24th October 2012, happened when the operator of the telehandler was attempting to position its front carriage above a road saw that Mr Powles was collecting, with the intention of lifting it onto Mr Powles’ lorry.

However, the operator braked suddenly when he saw Mr Powles appear by the saw. This caused the vehicle to lurch forward, trapping Mr Powles between the carriage of the telehandler and the container.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) established that the operator of the telehandler had not received proper training from a qualified instructor. The site itself was found to be disorganised and chaotic with no measures to organise traffic or safely separate vehicles and pedestrians on site.

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The investigation also found that no safe system of work for the lifting of such items had been put in place and the telehandler was poorly maintained. 

Complete Utilities Ltd of Overton Farm, Maisemore, Gloucester, was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay costs of £27,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE inspector Caroline Bird said after sentencing: “This terrible incident could have been avoided and Mr Powles would still be here today if Complete Utilities had provided proper training to staff in the operation of this telehandler. It is not acceptable to put drivers into vehicles that they have not previously operated, or without the necessary training by a qualified and competent instructor.

“Workplace transport is the second biggest cause of fatal and major incidents in the workplace. Employers must ensure that all drivers are properly trained by qualified, competent instructors for the vehicles they are operating.

“Site vehicle movements need to be controlled and arrangements put in place to segregate vehicles and pedestrians.”

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