Biffa ordered to pay £330,000 over member of public death

Biffa Waste Services Ltd has been fined after a member of the public was crushed to death.

The prosecution followed a HSE investigation into Biffa Waste Services Ltd after the death of Dennis Krauesslar, at its waste disposal site in Newbury on 10 September 2007.

Mr Krauesslar was crushed to death by a motorised loading shovel bucket used to flatten and drag the waste away from the tipping area. At the time of the incident, the site had a covered pit into which members of the public disposed of their waste. As Mr Krauesslar was tipping his garden waste into the pit, he was killed after the bucket of the loading shovel struck him.

The Civic Amenity site where the accident happened is now closed.

At a West Berkshire Magistrates Court hearing in February, Biffa Waste Services Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 by failing to ensure that the garden waste tipping area was safe for members of the public to use.

The company also pleaded guilty to contravening Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 by failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the garden waste tipping area of the site to ensure people other than employees were suitably protected.

At Reading Crown Court yesterday (19 April), Biffa Waste Services Limited was fined £280,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £54,906.57.

Speaking after the sentencing, HSE’s Head of Operations for the South East, Mike Wilcock, said:

“This tragic incident could have been avoided if sensible precautions and working practices had been in place to prevent the loading shovel working in such close proximity to members of the public.

“Companies operating such sites must carefully assess their arrangements to ensure that they keep vehicles and pedestrians separate whenever possible.”

Keith Woodward, Biffa’s Company Secretary, said:

“I would like to re-iterate our condolences to Mr Krauesslar’s widow, his daughter, family and friends. The accident which caused Mr Krauesslar’s death was preventable but despite the steps which we put in at the site to ensure the health and safety of members of the public and our staff we failed to prevent it. For this we are truly sorry.

“We have learnt lessons from this accident which we hope will mean that in future no other persons will have to endure the grief suffered by Mr Krauesslar’s family.”