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HSE v (1) Veolia (ES) Ltd & (2) Brian Currie (Milton Keynes) Ltd, Aylesbury Crown Court, HH the Lord Parmoor & a Jury

A John Williams successfully represented Brian Currie (Milton Keynes) Limited in a prosecution brought by the HSE under s3 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

The prosecution arose out of an accident which occurred in May 2004 when a trade refuse bin fell from the side lift of a Toploader glass recycling vehicle owned by Veolia (ES) Limited. The bin struck one of the loaders, killing him. Scientists at the HSL in Buxton who examined and tested the lift concluded that the lifting mechanism was in a poor state of repair and, in particular, the retaining clamp had been modified so that it did not extend far enough over the lip of the bin. Periodic servicing and maintenance of the vehicle was undertaken by Brian Currie (Milton Keynes) Limited pursuant to a written contract with Veolia (ES) Limited which was in standard form and provided for servicing and maintenance to the standard required by the Vehicle Operator’s Licence. 6 weeks before the accident, the lifting equipment (rear & side lifts) had been repaired by the manufacturers, Terberg Matek Limited. The lift had also passed yearly LOLER “thorough examinations” carried out by a third party.

Brian Currie (Milton Keynes) Limited argued that the modifications to the retaining clamp had been done by others; that the testing and maintenance standards contended for by the HSE fell outside the scope of its undertaking in relation to this vehicle; that any risk of harm that existed did not arise from activities or failings on its part and that it had done all that was reasonably practicable to comply with its duty under s3. Following a 3 week trial, the Jury acquitted Brian Currie (Milton Keynes) Limited. Veolia (ES) Limited (which was separately represented) was convicted of both offences.

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