Daventry contractor's failures 'exposed large number of workers' to risk of harm, court hears

In court, the judge scolded the company and ruled that its lax approach to health and safety had had the potential to harm many more staff.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 7:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 7:38 pm

Failures at a former Daventry waste collector that only came to light after a bin man was killed on the job "exposed a large number of workers to risk of injury", a judge has ruled.

Enterprise Management Services was fined £1.02m in court this week following the death of a 22-year-old employee.

The young bin man, Kane Beard, was on the job when he tripped and fell under a reversing lorry at the junction of Langdon Close.

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The judge heard how the bin lorry would never had had a reason to reverse at the junction where Kane died at all if the company had properly created a route for it, which would have cut out any need to reverse.

In court, the judge scolded the company and ruled that its lax approach to health and safety had had the potential to harm many more staff.

His Honour Judge Rupert Mayo said: "I am sure that the risk caused by the Defendant’s failure did expose a large number of workers to the risk of injury.

"In my judgement, at the heart of this case is the failure by EMSL to install and maintain an effective management and supervision structure."

The judge said the scale of errors made prior to Kane's death made "very uncomfortable reading".

Namely, the court heard how a route was set to be created that would have put bin teams on a path that meant they would not have to reverse at all as it is a high risk manoeuvre.

However, in 2016, the member of staff tasked with creating the route was put on long-term sick leave. No one at the company picked the job up.

Meanwhile, in February 2016, an alert to all Enterprise depots was issued after three "near misses" from reversing were reported in the space of three weeks. There was no follow up to this report.

The judge said: "Such information could, in my judgment, constitute ‘ignoring concerns raised by employees or others.

"In the location of the collision, there was no need to reverse the vehicle at all."

Speaking after the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Michelle Morrison said: “This tragic incident led to the death of a young man, which could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out a suitable and sufficient route risk assessment and identifying where reversing could be avoided.

“Those in control of workplaces are responsible for identifying and implementing suitable methods of working to reduce the need for vehicle reversing."

Enterprise, which pleaded guilty to the breach that led to Kane's death, was the environmental services contractor for both Daventry and Northampton from 2011 to 2018. It was fined £1.02m

A risk assessment created since the accident prevents bin lorries from reversing on Langdon Close.

A spokesperson for Amey PLC, which acquired Enterprise in 2013, said in a statement: “We deeply regret that this incident took place and again express our sympathies to Kane's family. The health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, supply chain partners and the public is our top priority and we are committed to safe working practices at all times.”