Logistics company DHL fined £2 million following death of worker

Polish-born Krzysztof Sontowski, 36, died after he became trapped between a reversing lorry and a loading bay at the company’s site in Snelshall in February 2015.

Environmental Health Officers from Milton Keynes Council, which brought the prosecution, found the logistics giant had not assessed the risks of loading and unloading container vehicles, nor had it implemented a safe system of work. There was also a lack of staff training and these failings caused the accident.

It was accepted by DHL that the risk of injury, such as that which occurred in this case, was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the failings on site.

DHL agreed that there was no risk assessment or Safe System of Work in place and therefore no training of staff in respect of dealing with problems that might arise during the loading or unloading of vehicles. As a consequence, a process had developed whereby members of staff tried to rectify any problems that arose themselves.

DHL pleaded guilty to two counts under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Sections 2(1) and 3(1) and was fined £2million. It must also pay costs of £100,000.

His Honour Judge Sheridan gave credit to DHL for the way in which they had acted following the accident, particularly in supporting Mr Sontowski’s family and workmates, and for their full co-operation with Milton Keynes Council during the investigation, as would be expected from such a large organisation. However, he reiterated that they should also have taken steps to carry out a risk assessment and provide a safe System of Work and training in respect of the foreseeable circumstances which led to the death of one of their employees.

A Milton Keynes Council Environmental Health spokesman said, “We are pleased with the result and fine imposed as it reiterates the importance of treating health and safety seriously. While the term “health and safety” is often incorrectly associated with trivial matters, true health and safety breaches can have devastating consequences as they did on this occasion. We would like to offer our deepest condolences to Mr Sontowski’s family and hope this case highlights to the logistics industry that having safe practices throughout the business is good business.”

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