Recent prosecutions – waste company fined over vehicle crushing incident

A waste management and skip hire company has been fined more than £185,000 following an accident involving a worker and a reversing vehicle.

After parking in the company’s waste management yard area and leaving his vehicle to remove a skip netting, a lorry driver was hit by reversing loading shovel. The employee was trapped between his own vehicle and the loading shovel and sustained life-changing injuries, including pelvic fractures and a crushed bowel.

An HSE investigation found that the system of work to control transport risks was not fully adequate and not monitored. These failings meant that employees did not follow safe working practices and were exposed to hazards.

At the time of the accident, the inner banksman – who was responsible for managing site transport – was absent from his station. There were no other measures to prevent new vehicles from accessing the area.

The business was found guilty of breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were ordered to pay £180,000 in fines and £5,856 in court costs.

The HSE inspector commented, ‘This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply following correct control measures and safe working practices.

‘Monitoring of the safe working practice and CCTV evidence would have highlighted risks created when the banksman left the yard area. A rising barrier fitted at the yard entrance, or relief cover for the banksman during the day, would have prevented this incident occurring.

‘Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.’

Specialist guidance from the Opus experts  

We last discussed workplace transport safety in our July 2022 newsletter. As winter approaches and visibility becomes poorer, it’s even more crucial to establish suitable traffic management across your branch.

This prosecution demonstrates the need to segregate safe working areas for employees. It also highlights the importance of ensuring that drivers travel with unrestricted visibility and reverse only when needed.

Basic safety controls can head off collision and crushing hazards before they place employees in harm’s way:  

  • 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 are using effective controls. These might include reversing alarms, flashing lights and motion sensors that signal hazards to drivers and pedestrians. 
  • If you have pedestrian 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. 

If you have a near miss or accident at your branch, remember to log it immediately. Any investigation may prevent injuries from happening in the future – and stop a close call from becoming a critical incident.

Speak to the Opus team for targeted support 

If you’re looking to reduce workplace transport risks at your builders merchant, talk to our experienced team. We’ll guide you through easy-to-implement controls that minimise hazards and safeguard drivers, customers and staff.

Get in touch on or 0330 0434015. Or book a one-to-one meeting here