Pendle Council fined after refuse worker suffered crushed leg

Pendle Borough Council has been fined after a worker’s leg was crushed by a refuse collection vehicle.
Pendle Town HallPendle Town Hall
Pendle Town Hall

Burnley Magistrates’ Court heard how, on October 30th 2015, Pendle Council labourer Dominic Allen was struck by a large refuse vehicle while at work in Nelson.

At the time of the incident, three refuse vehicles were in the immediate vicinity. Mr Allen suffered severe crush injuries which resulted in surgery to remove his lower right leg.

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An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the council had neglected to properly identify the well-known hazards posed by refuse collection operations. Consequently, the council had failed to devise safe working methods and provide the necessary information and training to their workers to prevent harm arising.

Pendle Council pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc act 1974. Total fines of £40,000 were imposed with costs of £14,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Leona Cameron said: “Pendle Borough Council did not do enough to protect people from the dangers presented by refuse collection vehicles. If the risks had been properly identified and a suitable system of work had been in place prior to the incident, the life-changing injuries sustained by Mr Allen could have been prevented.

“HSE has worked closely with the Waste Industry Safety and Health Forum which has produced several guidance booklets specific to this industry.”

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At the hearing on February 14th the court heard mitigation on behalf of the council that it had an excellent health and safety record with no previous incidents of this nature.

It also heard that it fully co-operated with the HSE investigation.

The penalty imposed is at the lowest end of the sentencing guidelines scale. The judge said that the council clearly took its health and safety responsibilities seriously and had layers of measures in place to assess and address concerns. This included engaging qualified, independent assessors.

Coun. Paul White, leader of Pendle Council, said that the council bitterly regretted what had happened a number of years ago.

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He said: “We’ve endeavoured to provide support to our employee throughout this process.

“The health and safety of our staff is something that is very important to me and to the council and I ensured a review was underway as soon as it was brought to my attention.

“We’ve reviewed all of our training arrangements and risk assessments and complied with the HSE’s recommendations at the earliest opportunity.”

The council recently invited the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to carry out a full up-to-date and independent review of the waste collection service.

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Coun. White added: “The review confirmed that a positive health and safety culture exists with manager, supervisors and worker representatives’ actively involved and supporting health and safety requirements.

“We’re implementing the detailed recommendations of the review and have further increased our staffing resource for dealing with health and safety across the council.”