A Hampshire waste company has been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a worker was injured by a reversing digger in Eastleigh.
Westminster Magistrates' Court in London has heard that Martin Jewell, 49, from Gosport, suffered life-changing injuries in the accident from which it is unlikely he will ever recover.
Mr Jewell, a skip driver, had just completed a job when the accident took place and was returning to the Solent Waste Services site to see if any more work was required.
The logistician made his way to a storage unit and asked the digger driver inside to pull out a skip and fill it up, before he turned away and started to walked towards a nearby office.
However, as he did this the digger reversed into him, knocking him over and crushing his legs.
After being rushed to hospital, Mr Jewell was diagnosed with life-changing injuries that included a double fracture to his right shin bone, as well as broken bones in both of his feet.
While broken bones can often be quickly healed, the extent of the compression caused by the weight of the equipment on Mr Jewell's legs caused him more serious damage than would normally be expected.
The skip driver also had to go through a number of painful operations and required extensive physiotherapy to regain movement in his legs, although he has not yet made a full recovery.
After being informed of the accident, the HSE launched an investigation in an attempt to ascertain if anyone was to blame in the case, or if it was Mr Jewell's fault. An extensive analysis of the Solent Waste Services site found that traffic was not properly segregated, meaning that pedestrians were in close contact with vehicles.
This was, according to inspectors, a clear violation of pre-existing guidelines as any industrial site with large vehicles, including diggers, in operation should have a safe work plan in place to stop these kinds of accidents from happening.
For its part in Mr Jewell's accident, Solent Waste Services Limited, of Withy Meadows, Dutton Lane, Eastleigh, was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £19,752 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Sec 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
"All too often"
After the hearing was finished, HSE inspector Zahir Agha criticised Solent Waste Services for its poor practice, directly blaming it for Mr Jewell's injuries.
"Incidents of this kind, where vehicles strike workers because movements are not properly controlled, occur all too often in the waste sector and result in a number of deaths and serious injuries every year," the inspector explained.
"Work around moving vehicles has to be properly planned, in line with guidance that is readily available through HSE and others. Solent Waste Services could and should have done more, and as a result Mr Jewell has been left with debilitating injuries from which he may never fully recover."
By Francesca Witney