Veolia failed to protect worker with learning difficulties crushed by dust cart
2nd February 2018
The London Borough of Croydon employee was working as a cleaner in Veolia UK's motor vehicle repair workshop when he was struck by a reversing 17.5 tonne dust cart on 9 May 2016. He sustained multiple fractures to his right fibula, femur, knee, ankle, wrist and hand. He also sustained a degloving injury to his right hand, which required a skin graft.
Due to his learning difficulties, the worker was employed as a "supported employee" and should have had heightened supervision.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the worker was often working in parts of Veolia UK's site, including the workshop, where large vehicles with low rear visibility for drivers maneuvered.
Southwark Crown Court was told on 31 January that the employee had a history of standing in the path of moving vehicles and this was known to both the London Borough of Croydon and Veolia UK. Both failed in their duty of care.
The local authority had relied on an historical "agreement" from 2003 under which its previous waste contractor had agreed to supervise the workshop cleaner.
The court was told that direct management or supervision of the "supported employee" had diminished over time and the worker was left with no active management. The HSE found that the local authority had failed in its duty of care because it had presumed that Veolia UK was managing the injured party. It should have communicated with the waste company to keep its employee safe.
Veolia UK did not recognise the "agreement" with the previous waste company. Although it did not require the workshop cleaner's services, the waste company allowed the individual to continue to operate in its workshop and had done since its contract with the London Borough of Croydon began.
The court was told the waste company had failed to take reasonably practicable precautions to ensure the injured party was safe in its workshop. It should have implemented adequate controls for workplace transport such as the use of a banksman.
Both duty holders failed also to consider the vulnerable worker's capabilities. Both should have taken reasonably practicable steps to ensure the employee's safety in a high-risk environment.
The London Borough of Croydon pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £10,843 in costs.
Veolia ES (UK) of Pentonville Road, London pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The waste company was fined £250,000 and ordered to pay £11,360 in costs.