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A Sheffield environmental services company has been fined following the death of a 25-year-old man, which was labelled as unnecessary.

Richard Calsen had been due to go on holiday but at the last minute had gone to work as a favour to his employer. Whilst working on the premises of John Fowler and Son in Chorley, Lancashire, he was crushed by the tailgate of a refuse collection truck.

Preston Crown Court heard that Calsen had been working with the son of the firm's owner, William Fowler, welding plates on to the vehicle's tailgate. When Fowler entered the cab of the truck to raise the tailgate, he accidentally lowered the tailgate, which crushed Calsen to death. The tailgate continued to close, as hydraulic props had not been fitted in place, which would have stopped the tailgate from closing. A safety switch had also not been fitted, which would have made sure a gap of one metre would have been left.

The Health and Safety Executive conducted a full investigation, finding that the company had failed to carry out a risk assessment, which would have prevented the death. Veolia Environmental Services Sheffield Ltd was fined £750,000. According to David Travers QC, the Sheffield company acknowledged that maintenance of the safety switch could have prevented the employee’s death.

Employers have a duty of care to their employees and members of the public, which often involves the use of safety workwear, and the preparation of risk assessments.

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