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Business owner fined after customer dies from reversing van

  • 16 January 2014
  • By Roger Brown

The owner of a Berkshire car maintenance business has been fined £7,500 and ordered to undertake 250 hours of community work after he reversed into and killed a customer in his van.

In a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, Reading Crown Court was told how Frederick Gleeson, 79, visited Complete Car Care in Wraysbury, in March 2012 after having an oil leak on his car checked out.

Gleeson was in the driveway of the premises as sole trader Mark Walker started to reverse his van along the drive to leave the garage. However, Gleeson was unable to react in time as the van came towards him and knocked him over, banging his head on the drive. He was rushed to hospital but died later that day.

An HSE investigation discovered that Walker had no system in place for safely managing the movement of vehicles in his yard, particularly when reversing. The court was told how his van had no direct rear visibility, and that a rear monitoring camera that had retrospectively been fitted to the vehicle wasn’t used.

The HSE also said Walker did not check whether the route was clear of any person or arrange for assistance when reversing. He was found guilty of two separate breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and liable for £75,000 in prosecution costs, which will be covered through insurance.

The judge ruled that Walker’s breach of duty was a direct cause of Gleeson’s death. HSE inspector Nigel Fitzhugh said: “Pedestrians and vehicles should always be segregated and if that cannot happen, then precautions should be in place. On this occasion, that should have included checking the rear of the van before reversing with assistance if necessary, or putting in place a system that meant he did not have to reverse from his premises.”


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