A construction company has been fined £35,000 after a labourer suffered serious injuries when he fell out of a dump truck he hadn't been trained to use.
Placed in charge of the heavy machinery with few instructions on how to operate it, the BRB Groundworks employee lost control of the machine when it started to slip down a pile of loose earth and crashed into a fence.
In trying to “jump clear of the dumper”, the employee – who had only been employed by BRB a few days before the accident – suffered injuries requiring hospital treatment for six days.
Managing Directors Martyn Blandin and Richard De La Haye appeared in the Royal Court after the accident took place at the Samarès Nursery construction site on 3 July last year – prompting an investigation by the island’s Health and Safety Inspectorate.
Pictured: The matter was brought before the Royal Court.
Today (Friday 10 January), they appeared in the Royal Court to be sentenced for the breach.
Prosecuting, Crown Advocate Chris Baglin told the Court that the employee “suffered three fractured ribs, ‘crack’ fractures to two vertebrae, a deep cut to his chin which required four stitches, a black eye and severe bruising".
He added: “He was kept in hospital for six days. It is noted that he is receiving ongoing rehabilitation directed by an occupational therapist.”
It also transpired during the hearing that the BRB employee who was trained in operating the dumpers didn’t show up for work on the day of the accident, leading to the decision to put an untrained employee behind the wheel, as he said he’d driven one before.
Crown Advocate Baglin said that another worker on the site gave the volunteer driver a "short lesson", despite not being qualified to either drive or instruct others on how to operate dumper trucks himself.
The driver subsequently ran into difficulty when the machine started to slip down a pile of earth he had driven onto.
The prosecutor indicated that both Managing Directors of the company made themselves available for interview with the Health and Safety Inspectorate and were fully compliant with the investigation.
Pictured: The employee spent six days in hospital as a result of the accident.
They also admitted the breach immediately.
Deeming that “the conduct of the company fell substantially short of the appropriate standard and the offending was a serious breach of the law”, the Crown Advocate recommended the Court impose a fine of £50,000.
Crown Advocate Baglin also remarked that “there was a real risk of death or physical impairment in this case”, and that it was “fortunate that the injuries were not life-threatening or life changing.”
Representing BRB Groundworks, Advocate Debbie Corbel emphasised the two Directors' full cooperation with the investigation. She noted that, in 25 years of business, they have never breached Health and Safety regulations before.
The defence lawyer also focused on the improvements BRB had made to its health and safety policies since the incident, adding that it was “highly regrettable” an accident prompted the changes.
Referring to similar cases in Jersey, she argued that the Crown’s suggestion of a £50,000 was too high.
Pictured: The company has been fined significantly for the health and safety breach.
She also reminded the Court that the company will also be punished through damage to their reputation, describing the episode as "very embarrassing" and "very difficult" for the Managing Directors.
Lieutenant Bailiff Anthony Olsen presided over the hearing and the case was heard by Jurats Blampied and Dulake.
Handing down the Court’s decision, the Lieutenant Bailiff described the decision to put an untrained employee in charge of the dumper when another employee didn't come to work as a "reckless oversight".
While acknowledging the company’s cooperation in the investigation and their clean record for 25 years, he said the Court nonetheless felt the accident was "serious" and involved "high culpability”, resulting in the severe injury of one of their employees.
BRB was ordered to pay a fine of £35,000 and £5,000 in legal costs to the prosecution.
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