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Forklift accidents, prosecutions and fines

Directors sentenced after telehandler fatality

telehandlerA landscaping company and its two directors were sentenced after Russell Meech, a 27 year old landscape gardener was killed when he fell under the wheels of a telehandler.

St Albans Crown Court heard how on 18 June 2013 Russell Meech was working for Wooburn Landscapes Limited of High Wycombe at a construction site at “High Trees”, Leggetts Park, Potters Bar. The company was contracted to unload and plant trees on the site. This included moving trees from an arctic trailer one hundred yards to the required area of the site.

The trees were moved across the site using a telehandler and strap. This method resulted in the trees being unstable and Mr Meech walked in front of the telehandler holding the tree at the stem to stabilise it.

It was during this operation that Russell Meech tripped and fell under the wheel of the telehandler suffering fatal injuries. He died at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive into the incident, found that the company was not following a safe system of work. The operation to move the trees had not been planned in sufficient detail to ensure that it could be carried out safely.

Wooburn Landscapes Limited, of Whitepit Lane, Flackwell Heath, High Wycombe, was fined a total of £50,000 with full costs of £9,680 after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Andrew Schofield of Gerralds Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire pled guilty to an offence under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was given a four and a half months prison sentence, suspended for eighteen months and 250 hours of unpaid community service.

Mark Schofield of Thornaby Place, Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire pled guilty to an offence under section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was given a four and a half months prison sentence, suspended for eighteen months and 250 hours of unpaid community service.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Gavin Bull said: “Hazards associated with workplace transport safety are well known and easily managed by careful planning, training, supervision and execution.”

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