Rugeley company sentenced for health and safety breaches following death of employee

Judge's hammer

Published: Thursday 21st December 2023 | 2.57pm

Hawkins Logistics Ltd of Rugeley, have been fined £866,000.00 and £50,597.76 in costs following a tragic incident which resulted in the death of an employee. The fine was imposed at a court hearing yesterday.

On 22 November 2019, Mr Shane Smithyman was working at the logistics yard on Redbrook Lane in Rugeley when the shunter truck he was operating became uncoupled, resulting in him becoming crushed between two vehicles. Shane sadly passed away on 26 November 2019 in hospital as a result of his injuries.

Hawkins Logistics Limited pleaded guilty at Telford Magistrates Court to an offence under Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, of failing to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees.  

Senior Environmental Health Officer Laura Nichols, who led the investigation for Cannock Chase Council, and brought the prosecution, said:

“There was a poor safety culture at Hawkins Logistics and the inadequate maintenance of a shunter vehicle contributed to the tragic circumstances of Mr Smithyman’s death. There was no safe system of work in place for this task, inadequate training and supervision. The company had previously failed to act on the advice of external consultants.”

Councillor Andrea Muckley, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said:

“This is a tragic case. Transport operations are among the highest risk workplace activities.  Had the necessary risk assessments been undertaken by the company the circumstances that led to this fatality would have been anticipated and avoided. The Council’s condolences are with Shane’s family.

“Vehicle runways remain one of the highest causes of injuries and death in the transport industry. It is vital that operators have suitable controls in place to protect their employees. This prosecution serves to highlight the complacency which exists in the industry, particularly in the use and maintenance of shunter trucks, with the resulting tragic consequences.”

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