Fatal Injuries sustained at waste site
Waste contractors Biffa have been fined £280,000 at Reading Crown Court after pleading guilty to two health and safety charges after a man was killed whilst dumping grass cuttings.
Dennis Krauesslar, 59, was killed on 10 September 2007 as he emptied garden waste at the site in Pinchington Lane, Newbury.
A Biffa employee was using a digger to clear waste in a pit and brought the shovel down on Mr Krauesslar crushing him against the pit's wall. He died a few hours later in hospital. One witness told the jury that the bucket of the digger overshot and came down over the wall.
The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Biffa
The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Biffa for failing to conduct the use of a loading shovel for green waste in such a way as to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that the public was not exposed to health and safety risks and for failing to make a suitable and sufficient public health and safety risk assessment.
Biffa admitted both counts. Today the firm was fined £280,000 and ordered to pay more than £54,900 in costs.
Linda Krauesslar and her daughter Victoria said Biffa must learn lessons from its past mistakes.
Their comments come after it was revealed a similar accident had happened at Star Hill Sawmills, a Biffa operated waste transfer site just 45 minutes away in Hampshire.
A member of the travelling community was killed when he was hit by a reversing shovel loader in 2006.
Biffa was prosecuted and fined £190,000 plus £50,000 costs.
Biffa made significant safety failures on its site which led to the loss of a loving family man
Linda said: “Whilst nothing will ever compensate us for the loss of Dennis and life will never be the same again, we are pleased with today’s outcome and in particular the judge’s conclusions. As he said this accident was foreseeable and avoidable and this was no way for a man to lose his life.
“We are pleased the fine is the largest ever imposed on Biffa which we believe is a reflection of their safety record and in particular the previous similar incident which happened only 18 months earlier.
“We are however disappointed never to have received a personal apology or condolences for Dennis’ death from the company.”
An inquest into Dennis’ death found factors contributing to it included a lack of site staff and signage to warn members of the public, the digger driver's possible lack of visibility, no formal safety systems in place for when the digger was being used and a lack of risk reporting between Biffa staff.
Henrietta Phillips of Thompsons Solicitors, who acts for the Krauesslar family said: “Today’s sentencing will never make up for Mr Krauesslar’s death or what his family have gone through coping with his loss but hopefully it will provide some sense of justice to his family. Biffa made significant safety failures on its site which led to the loss of a loving family man. This type of accident cannot happen a third time and Biffa must take urgent action now.”
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