A COMPANY has been fined after a worker was crushed by a digger at its depot.

Solent Waste Services (SWS) was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £19,752 costs after pleading guilty to serious safety failings.

Martin Jewell, 49, had his legs crushed at the company’s yard in Dutton Lane, Eastleigh, sustaining a double fracture to his right shin bone and broken bones in both feet.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London heard that the Gosport-based skip driver had returned to the site after completing a job and walked to a storage unit to ask a digger driver to pull out another skip before heading towards a nearby office.

But as he walked away the digger reversed, knocking him over. A subsequent Health and Safety Executive investigation found that there was nothing in place to ensure vehicles and workers were kept apart, such as designated walkways or zones.

The court also heard that pedestrians routinely walked or stood in areas where vehicles were operating, breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Zahir Agha said: “Incidents of this kind, where vehicles strike workers because movements are not properly controlled, occur all too often in the waste sector and result in a number of deaths and serious injuries every year.

“Work around moving vehicles has to be properly planned, in line with guidance that is readily available through HSE and others.

“Solent Waste Services could and should have done more, and as a result Mr Jewell has been left with debilitating injuries from which he may never fully recover.”

Maria Spicer, office manager for SWS, reiterated the judge’s statement that the cause of the accident was a mixture of factors.

She added: “The fact that such an experienced and well-trained man as Mr Jewell could be involved in an accident like this demonstrates the importance of everyone taking on the safety message regardless of what job they do, and everybody at the company wishes Mr Jewell a speedy and full recovery.”