A waste company in Ford where an employee plunged 30ft to his death has been fined £65,000 for having ‘woefully inadequate’ health and safety procedures at the time.
Father-of-ten Lindsay Campbell, 66, of Waterlooville, died when the bucket of a digger he and another man were working from tipped forward, sending them crashing down onto concrete. Adam Markowski, a Polish man in his 20s, broke both his legs in the accident on the Rudford Industrial Estate, Ford, in 2012.
Kevin Hoare, 65, of Lavey’s Lane, Fareham, the sole shareholder of South Coast Skips Ltd, was handed a suspended prison sentence after admitting a health and safety charge. The company was also fined £65,000 at Chichester Crown Court today (Monday, November 2).
The court heard health and safety records at the site had not been updated for six years prior to the accident, and employees felt they would face the sack if they complained about bad practices.
Prosecuting, Quentin Hunt said: “On July 25, 2012, two men, Lindsay Campbell and Adam Markowski, were lifted in the bucket of an excavator to carry out electrical works on the premises.
“They were working at a height that was 30ft above the ground when the bucket tipped forward, causing the two men to fall out on to concrete floor.
“As a result of their injuries, tragically Mr Campbell died the following day, while Mr Markowski suffered serious leg injuries.”
A cherry picker which was on site and could have safely been used for the operation was out of service, while an attempt to do the work in the basket on a forklift truck had failed because it couldn’t lift the two men to the height of the roof.
Mr Hunt said police and health and safety officers visited the site and found that health and safety documents, including risk assessments on falls from heights, had not been updated since 2006.
Mr Hunt said a number of employees had said in witness statements they had never received any form of health and safety training, making the documents that did exist ‘redundant’.
One employee, Mr Hunt said, had claimed it was an ‘accident waiting to happen’, adding: “It was understood if you said anything about bad practices you would lose your job.”
On one occasion Hoare had himself been driving a forklift truck carrying employees in a cage 20ft up which had ‘slipped’ but no one fell off, the court heard.
“The attitude of the management is just to get on with it, if you don’t like it then get out,” Mr Hunt said one witness statement had claimed.
Another said Hoare had ‘intimidated individuals to work in an unsafe way’ or face being sacked, Mr Hunt told the court.
Defending, Keith Morton said Hoare had been ‘devastated’ by the death of Mr Campbell, someone he had known for more than 20 years. He said: “He was his friend as well as his work colleague and is deeply sorry for his death, and the injuries to Mr Markowski.
“With regards to statements given by some that he’s seen as intimidating and uncaring character, it was not a view shared by all.
“He was especially sad to hear from people he has provided work for for many years.”
He said Mr Campbell had been in charge at the time of his death and that Mr Hoare had not been on the site. He added that £100,000 had been spent on improving health and safety in the wake of the fatal accident.
Judge Christopher Parker QC imposed a £65,000 fine on South Coast Skips Ltd and ordered the company to make a significant contribution to the prosecution’s £106,000 legal costs, to be paid within 12 months.
Passing a 12-month prison sentence on Mr Hoare, suspended for 18 months, judge Parker said although Mr Campbell had taken the ‘unsafe’ decision to use the digger, his death would not have happened without a ‘culture of unsafety running through this business’.
He said: “Mr Hoare knew about, and took part in, some of the unsafe practices that gave rise to this type of unsafe action where someone sadly died.
“Health and safety on the site was woefully inadequate and the one person who could have, and should have corrected them was Mr Hoare.”
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