Recent prosecutions - employee killed by reversing vehicle

In May 2022, a goat farming company was fined £180,000 for safety offences after an employee was killed by a reversing vehicle. The prosecution underlines the importance of workplace transport compliance in every industry – from agriculture to the merchant sector.

On 1 August 2018, an employee of Yorkshire Dairy Goats was struck by a reversing telescopic materials handler vehicle (telehandler) while working on a farm in York. Despite being air-lifted to Hull Royal Infirmary, the 53-year-old woman died of her injuries later that day.

An HSE investigation revealed that, after finishing her shift, the woman walked through a corridor and into the path of the reversing vehicle. The driver was unable to see the worker and could not prevent the accident. 

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and received a £180,000 fine, plus £20,000 in costs. 

Opus insights
Avoiding vehicle incidents in your builders merchant 

A high proportion of onsite traffic accidents are caused by reversing vehicles, but it’s possible to minimise risks with simple safety controls. 

  • Assess where vehicles reverse on your site and evaluate if it is necessary. Consider if a one-way system could eliminate the need. 
  • If reversing is unavoidable, check that you have suitable controls in place. These might include reversing alarms, flashing lights and motion sensors that signal hazards to drivers and pedestrians. 
  • If you have routes that step into traffic movement – for example, from a shop into the warehouse – ensure you have suitable signage and barriers in place. 
  • Consider using trained signallers (or banksmen) to guide drivers. 
  • Minimise the interaction between pedestrians and vehicles wherever possible. 
  • Ask visiting drivers to report to reception for an overview of your site layout. 
  • Ensure your drivers do not operate forklift trucks with their vision obscured. 

Contact Opus for further support 

Need guidance on eliminating workplace transport incidents at your builders merchant? Talk to an experienced Opus consultant about accident prevention and risk reduction for your site. 

Get in touch on or 0330 043 4015. Or book a one-to-one meeting here