Worker Changing Flat Tyre Crushed to Death

A family run business has pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches after a worker changing a flat tyre was fatally crushed.

The sub-contractor was under a static caravan when the four-tonne home collapsed on top of him.

doing a risk assessment

Inadequate Safety Procedures

In what was described as an ‘accident waiting to happen’, the court heard the firm’s safety procedures were unwritten and based on the experience of staff.

The caravan was 16 years old and had no designated chassis jacking points. It was being jacked-up on hydraulic bottle jacks, with breeze blocks used to take the weight, when the structure somehow ‘unexpectedly’ twisted on its supports – apparently the company had been changing wheels and tyres in this fashion for decades.

However, prosecutors said the firm had failed to make sure industry safety standards were followed when the ‘inherently dangerous’ job was carried out. The court heard the firm failed to follow accepted industry standards by not:

  • Ensuring the operation was carried out on a suitable hard surface;
  • Using axle stands to take the weight; and
  • Using cups on the jacks to better grip the chassis.

Judgment

The judge said it was clear:

  • no proper safety procedures had been in place at the time of the incident; and
  • there had been little or no planning to make sure tyres could be changed safely.

Blackhills Caravan Sales Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to discharge its duties under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 in regard to people’s welfare and safety.

It was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £14,000 toward prosecution costs.

Three health and safety charges against company directors were dropped following the firm’s guilty plea.