HSE calls for careful driving in depots after council worker is killed

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning both employers and drivers about the consequences of not taking reasonable care for the safety of others after a council employee was killed.

Dudley Metropolitan Council was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Michael Lilley, a council employee and the driver of the vehicle, pleaded guilty to two breaches of Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £750 and ordered to pay £500 in costs.

The man killed was George Pagett, a council employee who was described as a well-liked professional manager. He was struck and killed by a wheeled shovel loader, driven by Mr Lilley, in Dudley MBC’s Lister Road Depot in Netherton on 27 October 2006. Wolverhampton Court, sitting at the Waterfront, Brierley Hill, heard how Mr Lilley drove against the direction of the site’s one-way system and had the loading shovel at a height that meant he couldn’t see in front properly. He also didn’t take suitable precautions to make sure he didn’t damage any other vehicles or harm pedestrians.

Mr Pagett had been wearing a high visibility jacket and was facing the oncoming traffic in the yard when he was hit in the upper back by the blade of the wheeled loader shovel’s bucket. Other employees tried to warn Mr Pagett and divert Mr Lilley, but the vehicle did not stop until after the front wheel had run him over.

HSE inspector David Price said:

“This was a terrible incident that could so easily have been prevented. Mr Pagett’s untimely death has brought great grief to his family, and to many of his work colleagues.

“Depots and loading yards are potentially dangerous places, with vehicles often required to manoeuvre in tight or enclosed spaces. Employers need to provide set routes, to keep pedestrians and vehicles safely apart. They also need to check their site rules and systems of work are both appropriate and adequately enforced.

“Drivers need to obey signs and instructions in workplaces, just as closely as they would obey them on a public highway. In driving at over 8mph against the one-way system, with the unnecessarily raised bucket obscuring much of his view through the windscreen, Michael Lilley failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of Mr Pagett.”