Monday, 30 June 2014

West Midlands Travel fined over £185,000 after an employee was crushed between 2 buses

Regional bus operator West Midlands Travel was fined £185,119 (inc.costs) on 27 June 2014 after an employee died when he was crushed between two buses.
The circumstances were:
  • Lee Baker, an assistant mechanic, was attempting to move a double-decker bus to get access to a pit during a night shift. 
  • No supervisor was on duty at the time of the incident
  • Employees had not been trained in a safe system of work for moving buses not under their own power and had allowed the practice of workers pushing them during the night shifts. 
  • The company had a recovery agency to tow broken down vehicles both to the depot and within it, but only supervisors had been briefed to call them out.
  • West Midlands Travel failed to perform a suitable assessment of the risks inherent in moving buses manually.
  • On 22 October 2011 Mr Baker found that the reverse gear wouldn’t work. 
  • The lack of both a clear, safe system of work and a supervisor led to Mr Baker attempting to devise his own way of dealing with a problem that was preventing him from getting on with his work.
  • He and a colleague attempted to push it backwards to get it past a single-decker parked ten feet away and sideways on to the double-decker.
  • He went into the cab of the bus, which has an automatic safety device engaging the parking brake when the doors are open. 
  • He intended to put the gearbox in neutral but inadvertently left it in drive.
  • When he got off and closed the doors, the parking brake automatically disengaged after three seconds and the bus moved towards the two men who were then in front of the bus ready to push. 
  • Although his colleague managed to jump out of the way, Mr Baker didn’t and was crushed between the two vehicles.

The HSE inspector said:
“This was a dreadful tragedy and was devastating to Lee Baker’s family. It is clear that the failings of West Midlands Travel contributed significantly to this young man’s death. There was no supervisor on duty to advise Mr Baker or to ensure that no attempts were made to move a bus without somebody at the wheel, or advise him to call the recovery agency to move it. The company has since introduced a number of safety measures to prevent a recurrence. It is a pity a young man, who should have had his whole life ahead of him, had to die in what was an avoidable incident for that to happen.”

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