H&S Legal Briefing February 2024: Recent Decided Cases (Q1 2024): Arriva and cleaning firm fined after worker killed at bus depot.
In a tragic case, the national bus company Arriva and a commercial cleaning firm have been fined after Albin Trstena was killed at a bus depot in Hemel Hempstead.
Albin was working for Cordant Cleaning Limited when he was hit by a reversing bus being driven by a colleague on November 5, 2019.
The 25-year-old had been working in the yard of Arriva’s Hemel Hempstead bus depot when the vehicle was reversed out of the washdown area. He sustained fatal injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Arriva failed to properly assess the workplace safety measures and the risk of vehicle-pedestrian collisions, and both they and Cordant Cleaning Limited, subsequently known as C.L.C. Realisations Limited, failed to implement a suitable system of work to control this risks involved with workplace transport safety.
C.L.C Realisations Limited of Wellington Street, Leeds (in administration) offered no plea but was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and fined a nominal £1,000.
Arriva Kent Thameside Limited of Doxford International Business Park, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £32,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,392.
Comment and Employer Guidance
Workplace transport includes any vehicle or mobile equipment used by employees, contractors, or visitors in any workplace setting and any activity involving the movement of vehicles or mobile equipment in the workplace, including car parks.
The three most common types of incidents involving workplace transport are:
- Collisions (pedestrian or vehicle)
- People falling from vehicles
- Objects falling from vehicles
Key Steps to Compliance:
- A vehicle movement risk assessment must be completed before conducting any activities using workplace transport, and they must consider all factors relating to the vehicle or mobile equipment and the local operating environment. All employers must assess the risks presented by the movement of pedestrians, materials, and vehicles around or next to the workplace and implement appropriate safe systems of work and workplace safety measures to eliminate or minimise these risks.
- Regularly review and update your workplace risk assessments as site and yard activities, including loading and unloading operations, are often dynamic environments.
- Workplace transportation routes must be wide enough to allow for the safe movement of all vehicle types and traffic levels likely to use them. This must be achieved by designing transport routes that avoid hazards such as steep inclines, tight bends, poor surface materials, and the requirement to reverse in confined areas or in close proximity to pedestrians.
- There must be suitable and sufficient (interior and exterior) lighting that takes account of the work activity being carried out, provided at any location where vehicular transport is used, but especially where vehicles manoeuvre, pedestrians and vehicles circulate, cross, or loading and unloading take place.
- Workplace transport safety dictates that pedestrians should be separated from vehicles and mobile equipment by the provision of barriers of suitable strength and height or by the creation of pedestrian zones using markings to define safe walkways and means of access and egress.
- Where pedestrian and vehicle traffic routes cross, there must be safe means provided for crossing roadways, including signage and visual markings, dropped curbs, barriers, and deterrent paving to help direct pedestrians to the appropriate crossing points.
- Signage and road markings must provide instructions to pedestrian and vehicle users and be located in positions that allow users to see them and have time to respond. Signs and road markings must be constructed and located so as not to present hazards to drivers or pedestrians. Consideration must be given to visiting drivers who may be unfamiliar with the workplace layout, the route they need to take, and relevant safe working practices.
- Good site design can eliminate many of the workplace transport risks that would otherwise need managing.
Key Employer Lessons from This Case:
In this case, the HSE concluded that there had been a failure to undertake sufficient workplace safety measures to segregate vehicles and pedestrians, and both parties had failed to properly consider who was responsible for determining and implementing suitable workplace transport safety measures to ensure safe working practices when contracting out some of the activities performed within a shared workplace.
If you operate your business within someone else’s workplace (like the commercial cleaning firm in this case), it is imperative that your workplace risk assessments and safe systems of work fully consider the hazards and risks that your employees might be exposed to on a client site.
Check that your risk assessments are compatible with or overlap with the client’s own workplace or operational workplace risk assessments. Make sure that your employees are suitably trained and appropriately briefed in terms of the safe working practices that need to be undertaken on third-party client sites.
Where your employees discover any shortfalls in those safe systems of work at a client site, make sure that they know to protect their own health and safety in the first instance and thereafter communicate these issues to you without further delay.