Martlesham: Orwell Trucks fined after lorry cab collapsed on worker

martlesham: A Martlesham-based truck dealership has been fined more than �4,000 after admitting breaching health and safety laws when a lorry cab fell on top of a worker, crushing two of his ribs.

Orwell Trucks, of Betts Avenue, pleaded guilty at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court on Monday to breaching section two of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Trevor Muffat, an experienced technician from Akenham, was carrying out a routine check on the lorry when a metal prop holding up the cab gave way, trapping him underneath.

The 60-year-old, who has worked for the company for 12 years and continues to do so, suffered two broken ribs after being trapped for around ten minutes during his late shift on July 2, 2009.

The court heard Orwell Trucks employ third party health and safety experts to advise them on policies and procedures.


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A risk assessment had been carried out on the job Mr Muffat was undertaking but for “reasons unknown” the information was never relayed to workers.

Mitigating Suzanne Drinkwater, said: “It is important to understand, whilst my clients are pleading guilty to the breach, this did not arise from cutting corners or failing to heed warnings, nor was it wilful or intentional.”

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She added: “This was an isolated lapse by a company who have historically adopted a responsible and conscientious attitude to health and safety and nobody should doubt the depth of feeling about what has happened to Mr Muffat.”

The court heard changes have been made at Orwell Trucks, in light of the accident. Health and safety meetings are held more regularly, all technicians have been made aware of the risk assessment and the company has issued personal alarms to all technicians.

Magistrates fined the company �4,500, ordering them to pay �2,726 in prosecution costs and a �15 victim surcharge.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Ivan Brooke said: “Trevor Muffett’s injury could have been foreseen and prevented. And it all could have been much worse: there are cases of people having been killed by falling vehicle cabs. HSE will not hesitate to take companies, big or small, to court when they fail to behave responsibly and so expose their workers to risk.”

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