The employee, Mr Leighton Jardine, was fatally injured on 22 January 2016 while attempting to attach a trailer. The trailer was parked on a slight slope, enough to cause it to roll forward and trap him.
An HSE investigation found safety management arrangements for coupling trailers to vehicles failed to take account of the slope.
At Dudley Magistrates’ Court, Tuffnells Parcels Express, of Dudley, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined £1.5 million. It was also ordered to pay costs of £32,823.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karl Raw said: “Had Tuffnells taken the slope into account, simple measures could have been taken that would have prevented this incident. Workplace transport remains a high-risk environment, and this case serves as a reminder to industry that assessments of sites should be specific and identify the hazards unique to each yard. It is also a reminder that the slope a vehicle is parked on does not need to be steep for incidents to occur.
“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to adopt robust management action in both planning and monitoring of the workplace and workplace actions at this site.”
In a statement from Connect Group, the owner of Tuffnells, the company expressed its “sincere regret and sorrow for the part played by the failings of the business” in the tragic incident.
It added that the business cooperated fully with the HSE investigation and has already taken remedial measures to improve practices and reduce risk.
“We have invested over £5m since our acquisition of Tuffnells on a broad range of health and safety improvements across all our Tuffnells depots. The Court considered that the efforts Tuffnells have made to improve health and safety compliance were laudable. This commitment to continuously improving our systems, processes and training will continue,” said Connect Group.
“We send our deepest condolences and continue to offer any support we can to the family of Mr Jardine.”