Council fined £1m after disabled Rufford Abbey visitor hit by tractor

Rufford Abbey, Ollerton.
Rufford Abbey, Ollerton.

Nottinghamshire County Council has been fined £1m after a disabled man was struck by a vehicle used for collecting branches.

Nottingham Crown Court heard employees were working at Rufford Abbey County Park collecting branches and transporting them, using a tractor mounted grab attachment, to be burned.

At the same time a disabled man was on a guided walk in the park and was struck by the tractor.

The 71-year-old suffered serious bruising and injuries to arms legs and head in the incident, which happened on July 1, 2015.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the council failed to implement a safe system of work for this activity in that they failed to segregate vehicle movements from the public.

They failed to train the workers to the required level to operate the mounted grab and act as banksman. The machine was not suitable for transporting materials long distances.

They also failed to supervise and adequately plan the work sufficiently in a public place and as a result put their own employees and members of the public at risk, the court heard.

The authority pleaded guilty of breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £10,269.85.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Martin Giles said: “The failure to properly plan this work and put in place straightforward control measures not only put the gentleman at risk but also endangered other members of the public walking with him.

“Duty holders have the responsibility to assess the work they do in public areas to lower the risk of harm and injury, particularly when they introduce new plant or equipment.”