A waste management and recycling company has been fined after a driver was killed at a Northamptonshire landfill site. SITA UK Limited was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the death of Gary Carter, 32, at the Cranford landfill site on 4 January 2007.

The company, of Grenfell Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £210,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £38,000.

Northampton Crown Court heard that Mr Carter, of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, arrived at the site to empty his refuse lorry and, like all the lorries emptying at the site that day, had to be assisted onto and off the tipping area due to the wet weather and soft ground conditions on the site.

After being towed to the tipping area by a bulldozer, Mr Carter discharged only part of his load. To shed the rest he had to move forward but his lorry had become too bogged down in soft ground.

The driver of the compactor, which was spreading the rubbish behind his lorry, radioed to him to say he would drive up behind Mr Carter’s lorry and push it forward with his own vehicle.

At the same time the bulldozer reversed up to the front of Mr Carter’s lorry to give him a tow. Both tried to help Mr Carter move, but without communicating with each other. When the compactor started to push the lorry forward, Mr Carter was attaching a tow rope from the bulldozer to the front of his lorry which meant he was crushed to death between his lorry and back of the bulldozer.

He died at the scene.

The court heard from the prosecution that new working arrangements had been introduced a few days before the accident without having been properly risk assessed. Further, that SITA had not defined the supervisory roles for their staff on the site and that site rules on pushing lorries were ambiguous.

HSE Inspector Roy Bush said:

“Every company has a legal responsibility to take care of people working on their site, whether they are employed by them or not, in whatever circumstances they are asked to operate.

“Assessing risks, mitigating them wherever possible or stopping work as appropriate is the least people should expect from companies. Employers need to ensure their staff understand their roles and responsibilities in making sure sites like this operate to clear site safety rules.

“In this case, the prosecution shows that this has not happened and Mr Carter’s family have lost him as a result.”