Judge fines company £185,000 after “nightmare waiting to happen”

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A logistics company has been fined more than £200,000 after a worker was injured driving a faulty picker truck.

On September 18, 2012 Robert Hayes was working at Kuehne + Nagel, based in Snelshall West, when he was thrown from a low level order picker when its steering malfunctioned.

His right food was trapped underneath, which fractured three of his bones.

A week before the accident, the vehicle he had driven had been reported as defective on 12 September but had not been repaired.

But a month later, MK Council’s Environmental Health Officers found that no action had been taken to address the failings.

The company pleaded guilty at Aylesbury Crown Court on Friday for one breach under Sections 2 and 33 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The court heard that the company did not have an adequate system to ensure that defective vehicles were taken out of use and repaired prior to being reused. Management had been advised of failings by staff, but the company failed to heed these warnings.

In his sentencing summary of the case, Judge Sheridan stated that he found “serious failures” of senior managers who “ought to have recognised ongoing problems.”

He concluded that the company “fell well below the reasonably practicable test” and it was “not just reasonably foreseeable but a nightmare waiting to happen.”

Failings included breaches of general and mandatory health and safety provisions and a systematic failure to provide a safe system of work.

Following the hearing, Health and Safety Inspector for Milton Keynes Council, Martin Brown said: “We are very pleased with the result and fine imposed as it reiterates the importance of treating health & safety seriously.

“This accident was not just reasonably foreseeable it was, as a result of the company’s failings, virtually inevitable.”

The firm was also ordered to pay Milton Keynes Council’s costs of £25,500.