Garage owner jailed after worker crushed to death by van

The owner of an independent garage where a worker was crushed to death by a van has been jailed.

Kenneth McCord, 56, was killed on 16 July 2020 at JJ Tyres & Recovery in Bootle, Merseyside. 

JJ Tyres & Recovery, Merseyside. Inset: Kenneth McCord

During the trial at Liverpool Crown Court it was heard McCord was assisting with the removal of the flat rear bed of a tipper van – to salvage spare parts – when the hydraulic system of the tipper bed was released without the support arm being in place. 

The flatbed then fell and crushed him while he was working underneath it. Garage owner Joseph Jones and two other employees rushed to his aid and were able to rescue McCord. He appeared shaken but was still able to talk and have a drink of water, the court heard.

However, McCord’s condition then rapidly deteriorated, and an ambulance was called. He was taken to Aintree hospital where it was found he was suffering from significant internal injuries caused by the crushing. McCord underwent surgery but later died from his injuries.

Following his death, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was undertaken. It found Jones had no risk assessments, safe systems of work or lifting plan in place, and the company did not provide staff with adequate training or made them aware of the dangers associated with removing the flat bed from a vehicle.

The investigation also found that if the support arm which props the tipper bed while in the raised position had been in place at the time, McCord’s death would have been avoided

Jones, of Lodwick Street, Bootle pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and Section 33(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and was jailed for ten months.

Nicola McCall, McCord’s partner of more than 20 years, called the incident “a terrible accident that could have so easily been avoided

The 51-year-old added: “My life has changed massively since Kenny’s death. Since his death my health has not been good, and I’ve struggled to come to terms with his loss as he was such a big part of my life

“Emotionally I was a mess, I struggled to talk about the incident, I would cry constantly and still do, and wouldn’t leave the house in case I met somebody that we both knew, and it would bring up all my feelings again.

“I miss the silly things that Kenny used to do like always tormenting people in fun ways and cherish the videos that I still have of him on my phone.

After the hearing, HSE inspector David Bellis said: “Nicola is, sadly, correct. We found that had the support arm been applied, the collapse would not have happened.

‘This will only take me a minute’ is a phrase we hear all too often, yet it is crucial the correct equipment is used when working under vehicles.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“Companies should be aware that HSE take fatal accidents seriously no matter the size of the company and will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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