A company has been fined £85,000 after breaching Health and Safety rules which led to the death of an employee nearly seven years ago.
Driver Brian Peek, 58, of Springwood Drive, Godinton Park, died in November, 2006, while delivering building materials to a house.
As he was unloading the last of four bags in his tipper truck, he became trapped between the lifting bucket and the side of the vehicle and died before he could be taken to hospital.
His employers at Moore’s Turf And Topsoil Ltd, based at Callington Court Farm, in Brenzett, have pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to discharge their legal duties to protect him and others nearby.
Now a judge at Canterbury Crown Court has fined the firm £85,000 and ordered Moores to pay all costs.
At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Quentin Hunt told how on November 20, 2006, Mr Peek was unloading three one tonne bags of aggregate and a tonne bag of sand to a house in Budds Lane, Wittersham.
Brian Peek died while making a delivery in Wittersham in 2006
“Three of the bags were successfully unloaded,” said Mr Hunt. “Mr Peek then needed access to the rear of the lorry to physically attach the bags to the strops and the clamshell or bucket.
“He began to prepare for the unloading and it would appear that Mr Peek then leaned into the rear of the tipper truck from the cab unit.
“Although it isn’t known why he did this, it is safe to infer he was in the process of adjusting or affixing the strops.”
Mr Hunt said that two men standing nearby, including the householder, then heard “a loud crunching noise”.
The householder climbed the ladder to the platform to see that Mr Peek was on the platform with his body angled into the well of the tipper truck.
“He was trapped by his neck between the side of the truck and the clamshell,” said Mr Hunt.
Emergency services were alerted but Mr Peek was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Investigations by the police and the Health and Safety Executive followed and the failings of the defendant company in their obligations towards their employees, non employees and members of the public were manifest and numerous,” said Mr Hunt.
Budd Lane in Wittersham, where the tragedy happened
He told the court that Moores “did not have any real health and safety management system in place”.
The driver had not been trained to use the equipment to unload one tonne bags and the company had not completed any risk assessments for the machinery.
“The investigation revealed that, in fact, the lifting equipment was patently unsuitable for the safe unloading of one tonne bags and the clamshell was not designed to have strops attached,” said Mr Hunt.
Moores Turf and Top soil at Brenzett Callington Court Farm
“Not only was the system of work patently unsafe but the machinery itself was not maintained to a sufficient standard and was dangerous and defective.
“The lorry-mounted crane and lifting accessories were not maintained in a safe condition and had received ad hoc repairs and maintenance at best.”
Dominic Kay, for Moores, said the company had employed someone to instruct the drivers but had been “badly let down”.
“This company has been operating for 50 years and it isn’t a cowboy outfit but is well respected,” he said.
Mr Peek had been a friend of the company’s director Paul Moore, who had shown genuine remorse for what happened.
Although the accident happened in 2006, charges against the company weren’t brought until 2012.