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Directors fine

Posted: Tuesday 20th, January 2015

Directors fined after young worker crushed by dumper

Date: 23 December 2014

A 20-year-old man died on his first day at work for a new company when the four-
tonne dumper he was driving toppled over a bank and crushed him.

Daniel Whiston, from Dulverton, was allowed to drive the dumper, which had a
number of serious defects, before it overturned down the embankment at
Sweetings Farm, near Tiverton, on 27 October 2009.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident, and prosecuted
Mr Whiston’s employers, company directors William Friend and Robert Plume, at
Exeter Crown Court today (22 Dec).

The court heard that Plume and Friend’s company, Wedgewood Buildings Ltd, had
been contracted to expand a pond on the farm, which involved excavating and
moving spoil around the site.

Mr Whiston received about 30 minutes’ training from a more experienced
colleague, who was also operating an excavator and filling the dumper, before he
started his first day’s work. During the afternoon, the excavator operator, who was
the only other worker on site saw the fully-loaded dumper driven by Mr Whiston
topple off the side of the causeway and down the 60 degree slope, turning over
and crushing him underneath.

HSE’s investigation found a number of serious failings on the site:

The excavator driver was not trained to teach Mr Whiston how to use the dumper
and was not competent to supervise him.
The dumper had a number of serious defects, including steering failure, defective
and inoperative front braking and a non-functioning handbrake with worn-out
No suitable or sufficient risk assessments had been carried out for the work and no
safe system of work was used.
The causeway used by the dumper was too narrow for a front-tipping dumper to be
positioned and safely tip the load down the embankment.
Robert Plume, of East Street, South Molton, and William Friend, of Hannaford,
Swimbridge, near Barnstaple, each pleaded guilty to a breach of Health and
Safety legislation. Each was given a 12 month custodial sentence, suspended for
two years, and 180 hours of community service, to be completed within a year.
They were also ordered to pay costs of £25,000 each.

HSE Inspector Jonathan Harris, speaking after the hearing, said:

“The very serious failures to manage this job properly contributed to the tragic and
needless loss of a young man’s life.

“Workers have a right to expect that the equipment they use is appropriate for the
task, properly maintained and in a safe condition.

“Mr Whiston was not given suitable basic or advanced training under the industry’s
Construction Plant Competence Scheme and was, instead, given a short briefing
by a worker who himself had no formal qualifications for driving the dumper.

“Anyone in control of construction projects must ensure the work is properly
planned and risk assessed to avoid similar tragedies in the future. Knowing what
needs to be done is not the same as knowing how it should be done safely.”

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