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Landscape gardener crushed by 'unsafe' skip loader

The skip loader on its side following the incident

A self-employed businessman has been given a suspended jail sentence for supplying unsafe construction equipment that led to the death of a father-of-six who was working on a garden in Reigate, Surrey.

Ken Pinkerton, a 47-year-old landscape gardener, was crushed when a one-tonne skip loader he was using tipped over onto its side. He had hired the loader, a type of dumper, along with a mini-digger from Brian Beavis, who traded as Heavy Plant Repairs, of Canterbury, Kent.

The fatal incident, on 28 September 2011, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who today (8 March) prosecuted Mr Beavis for serious safety failings at Guildford Crown Court.

Key flaws identified by HSE with the skip loader included:

  • it had no seat belt
  • the roll-over protection could not be operated, and,
  • a missing spring meant the engine cover couldn't be secured

The court heard that Mr Pinkerton, who lived with his long-term partner and their six children in Herne Bay, ran his own landscaping business and had been hired for a job in Reigate.

He was using the mini-digger when it turned over. He then took the skip loader to try to upright the digger. However, as he was trying to operate the machine, it went backwards, reversed over some garden waste, left the ground and then tipped over. He was thrown from his seat and sustained fatal crush injuries.

In addition to several defects on the skip loader found by HSE, Mr Beavis had failed to provide any user information for the construction equipment he had supplied.

Brian Peter Beavis, trading as Heavy Plant Repairs, of Nash Road, Ash, Canterbury, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 6(1)(a) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was given a nine months' prison sentence, suspended for a year, and ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to Mr Pinkerton's partner.


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