HSE warns of the dangers of working under vehicles after service engineer dies

Sheffield Occupational Health and Safety Association (SOHSA) on 2008-06-23 08:33:40

HSE is warning vehicle repair and maintenance engineers of the dangers of working under vehicles after Dennis Eagle Limited, a Warwick-based manufacturer of refuse collection vehicles, was fined £166,000 with costs of £22,612 at Stafford Crown Court, on 2nd June, 2008, for offences relating to the death of a worker. Simon Rose, 39, from Burntwood in the West Midlands, a field service engineer for the company, based at the Aldridge Service Centre, was fatally injured whilst working on a ‘DENNIS’ refuse vehicle in East Staffordshire Borough Council’s Millers Lane, Burton depot on 24 May 2006. The vehicle had been reported to have an intermittent problem with the parking brake sticking on, when it should have released. Simon Rose was working under the vehicle, using wheel chocks that were inadequate, when the parking brake released and the vehicle moved forwards over him. An investigation into the death of Mr Rose revealed that he was an experienced engineer who was competent in problem-solving and was working in a logical way to solve the handbrake problem. However, Dennis Eagle had failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment resulting in inadequate information and instruction on how to proceed safely in this situation and in other varying conditions faced by Simon Rose and other field service engineers who work from service centres across the country. Supervision of the company’s field service engineers was also found to be inadequate. No chocks had been provided to allow employees to work safely under vehicles so Mr Rose was using two pieces of brick as an alternative. Dennis Eagle was charged, under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (1974), with failing to ensure the safety of field service engineers, including Simon Rose. Speaking after the case HSE Inspector Lyn Spooner said: "This case demonstrates the importance of not leaving workers to their own devices. Simon Rose was a very experienced and competent engineer, who was working logically to solve a problem. However, in the absence of suitable safe systems of work to provide adequate instruction and in the absence of the provision of adequate equipment (chocks), Simon was forced to improvise, which he had probably had to do on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, this time, it proved fatal. Regrettably, had Dennis Eagle complied with legal duties, his death would had been avoided, which is of little solace to Mrs Rose and her two young children."

Read more Health and Safety Headlines...