Welsh company changes plea during health and safety hearing
A trial that was expected to last for a week following the death of a worker at Arkenfield Stable Hire Ltd in Wrexham was abruptly halted when the company altered its plea to guilty.
The worker, Philip Ledward, 62, had been helping a truck driver to reverse in the dark, when he was struck by an oncoming vehicle, resulting in his death in November 2011. The firm and the general manager, Phillip Sutton, pleaded not guilty to charges of failing to ensure the welfare, health and safety of employees at the place of work. The company was charged with not providing a safe procedure for the parking, arrival and departure of vehicles at the firm.
On the second day of the trial, the company pled guilty, while the general manager was found not guilty as no evidence against him was discovered. The judge indicated that he would sentence the company the following day.
The incident occurred on the A495, where three workers were assisting an articulated truck as it attempted to manoeuvre into the yard. As two others were warning traffic, Ledward was stood at the driver’s side of the truck, talking to the driver. An oncoming vehicle hit him. According to the prosecutor, it was “an accident waiting to happen”.
Ledward’s son Allan had worked at the company until a week prior to the accident. He stated that he was told to sign a document to say he had taken part in health and safety training, even though this was not the case. Training is a vital component of maintaining a safe workplace, which includes the use of PPE where necessary.