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Prison sentences for directors for telehandler fatality

UK based Wooburn Landscapes of High Wycombe was fined £50,000 plus costs of £9,680, while its two directors - Andrew and Mark Schofield - were each given four and half month prison sentences, suspended for 18 months, plus 250 hours of unpaid community service.

The fines concerned a fatal incident in which Russell Meech, 27, fell under the wheel of a telehandler, while guiding a load suspended from a telehandler. The incident occurred at a landscaping project at Leggetts Park, Potters Bar.

The company was contracted to unload and plant trees on the site. The team used a telehandler with canvas strap type sling to unload the trees and move them to the planting area, a distance of around 100 metres.

Meech walked in front of the telehandler holding the tree in order to prevent it swinging too wildly. It was during one of these manoeuvres that he tripped and fell under the wheel of the telehandler suffering fatal injuries. He died at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the company was not following a safe system of work. The operation to move the trees had not been planned in sufficient detail to ensure that it could be carried out safely.

HSE inspector Gavin Bull said: “Hazards associated with workplace transport safety are well known and easily managed by careful planning, training, supervision and execution.”
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Carrying suspended loads with a telehandler needs proper planning