Safety & Assurance Bulletin March 2023

In the News Elsewhere

Care Home fined £400k after falling tree crushes child

A care home provider has been fined £400k after an eight-year-old girl suffered catastrophic injuries when a tree fell on her.

The court heard that on 8 July 2021, the girl was out for an evening jog with her father. As she was running on a pavement outside the entrance to the care home, a lime tree fell on her. She suffered serious crush injuries and her leg had to be amputated. It was subsequently found that the tree was diseased with a common fungus and had likely been rotting for several years prior to the accident.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that, over a number of years, the care home had failed to have in place a strategy to manage trees, including adequate risk assessment, proactive surveys, inspections, and monitoring of trees, to identify where remedial work may have been required to prevent risk of the tree falling.

The care home pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and received a fine of £400,000. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £3,275 and a victim surcharge.

HSE Inspector said: This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to have in place suitable arrangements for managing trees on their premises, and failure to ensure that the trees were properly inspected and maintained.


Lorry Driver Death

An HGV driver was crushed under the wheels of their own lorry as they tried to stop it rolling away an inquest heard. The court was told that the driver had reversed the cab of their lorry into position at the terminal so they could attach an oil tanker. They then exited the vehicle and wound up the tanker supports while it was stationary.

CCTV at the site, provided as evidence to the inquest, showed that the driver then mounted the vehicle between the cab and the tanker in order to connect the two vehicles. The cab and the tanker began to roll forwards and, after around 13 seconds, the driver jumped from the vehicle and ran alongside it, in an attempt to reach the cab and apply the brakes.

They then collided with another stationary lorry on the other side of the terminal and was “forced between their own vehicle and the stationary lorry… and then, as a result, was pulled under the wheels of their own vehicle”.

An inspection of the lorry, carried out by a vehicle examiner found no defects which could have affected its operation and control prior to the incident. The
investigating HSE inspector said: What should have prevented the tanker from rolling would have been the brake system, which would have then been connected to the brake in the trailer. The fact that it rolled implied that the brakes weren’t applied.