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Northumbrian Water fined £34k after worker crashed by vehicle

Northumbrian Water has been ordered to pay more than £34,000 in fines and costs after an employee was crushed between the loading bucket and cab of a skid steer loader.

The Health and Safety Executive said the incident, which occurred in March 2008 at the company’s Lound Water treatment works site, could have been “potentially fatal”.

Robert Ayers, 38, from Lowestoft, had been getting into the cab of the Bobcat vehicle when he slipped and pressed the control to raise the vehicle’s bucket. He then became trapped between the cab and the bucket, suffering crush injuries and permanent scarring, and spending three days in intensive care.

The HSE said the device that usually stops the bucket being raised when there is no one in the driver’s seat of the vehicle was found to be faulty.

Mr Ayers and other employees had also not received adequate training in the use of the vehicle, it added.

HSE inspector Richard Hines said: “Mr Ayers is very lucky to have escaped with his life from this incident because similar incidents with other companies have resulted in employees being crushed to death. It was a simple example of faulty equipment and insufficient training creating a potential disaster.”

Northumbrian Water, which owns and operates Essex and Suffolk Water, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act.

It was fined £17,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £17,045.40 at Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court.