A construction company has been fined £300,000 after a dad-of-two was crushed to death by a reversing lorry on an industrial estate which was like “the Wacky Races”.
Tragic Matthew Lambert, 39, was refuelling his road sweeping lorry when he suffered fatal injuries in the accident on November 26, 2013.
He was struck by a 32-tonne vehicle at the premises of “chaotic” construction support services firm Leedale Ltd, in Ripley, Derbs.
Despite the efforts of colleagues he was pronounced dead at the industrial estate having suffered catastrophic injuries.
In October 2015, an inquest jury ruled a number of faults at the firm had contributed to Mr Lambert’s death.
And on Tuesday (31/5) the company admitted breaking health and safety laws and were fined £300,000 at Derby Crown Court.
Sentencing, Judge Nirmal Shant said: “On Tuesday November 26, 2013, at approximately 6.58am, Matthew Lambert, who was just 39 and employed as an HGV driver was refuelling a lorry when and HGV reversed into him, crushing him to death.
“The defendant accepts there were failings that, in my judgement, were causative of his death.
“I also accept that the actions of the driver of the other lorry also played their part in the death.
“Nothing I can say will act as any comfort to the loss to his family and the gap his death must have left in their lives, but I cannot reverse that.”
The court heard Leedale’s first failing was the lack of a one way system as well as a failure to train its staff in vehicle movement at the site.
The third failure was not having a refuelling pipe long enough so that when its drivers filled up they were not left at danger at the back of their vehicles.
The judge said there was inadequate lighting at the diesel pumps where the drivers refuelled and reversing cameras should have been fitted.
She added: “In my judgement, culpability on the part of the defendant was high and the risk of harm was also high.
“The worker’s working in their employment were exposed to risk of harm. It has to be said, serious harm.”
Adam Farrer, prosecuting on behalf of the HSE, said: “One witness told the inquest the light at the pump was so bad he had to use the light from his mobile phone to see what he was doing.
“Most drivers did not know who was in charge of health and safety at the site.
“The prosecution say there was complacency at the company and it is only good fortune other drivers have not been involved in further incidents.”
Andrew Magee, defending, said his client recognised and had addressed the failings that led to Mr Lambert’s death.
He said: “I must start by repeating the company’s profound regret at the death of Matthew Lambert and extend sincere condolences to his family.
“All of the company’s employees were shocked by the events of November 2013.
“The critical failure is that there was not a one-way system in place and we accept that was a serious failure.
“Had there been one this accident would not have happened.”
Mr Lambert, of Chaddesden, Derbys., leaves behind a daughter Lily, seven, and a son Alfie, six.
After the case his parents Barry and Beverley said they were pleased the judge cleared their son of being at any fault.
Mrs Lambert said: “Nothing is going to bring Matthew back and this is the end of something we have been living for two-and-a-half years.
“So at least we now have some closure.
“We can now move on with our lives because this has been hanging over us for so long now.”
Mr Lambert added: “People have been saying that Matthew should not have been at the back of the lorry when the incident took place but now they know exactly how he died and who was to blame.”
Giving evidence at the inquest in October, lorry driver Simon Woodall said a “typical morning” at the industrial firm was like being at the “Wacky Races”.
He said: “It’s been described as chaotic.
“I describe it as the Wacky Races, there were lorries everywhere.
“It would be maybe six, seven, eight lorries and there could be 20 tippers all on the same job and all leaving at the same time.
“They were all rushing, there was just no management there.”