MR Binman has been fined €40,000 at Limerick Circuit Court arising from the death of a 64-year-old employee at its yard in Grange three years ago.
John Wright, a driver from Caherdavin, died of cardiac arrest from the shock of injuries sustained when he was struck by a loading truck as he crossed the yard to the canteen on Good Friday, March 21, 2008. In a victim impact statement, Mr Wright’s son David described the unnecessary accident as “scandalous”.
The court heard that the maximum fine for the breaches was €3 million but in imposing the penalty, Judge Carroll Moran said it was not to be interpreted as “a measurement of the value of the life that was lost”.
Fines, the judge said, should be large enough to punish “but not so large as to threaten the financial viability of the company” and the livelihoods of over 200 employees who were “innocent persons” in the case.
On foot of an investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), Mr Binman pleaded guilty to two breaches of regulations which centred on the management of pedestrian and vehicular traffic in a yard and the need to keep them segregated.
The court was told by Mr Binman managing director Martin Sheahan Jnr that there were 120 to 150 vehicular movements per day in this yard at its plant in Luddenmore, Grange and there had not been a serious accident before or since Mr Wright’s death.
The father-of-four had parked his truck on the morning of March 21 and was walking across the yard to the canteen. The loading truck that struck him had taken a “wide turn” to avoid two other trucks and the driver had failed to see Mr Wright, who ended up under the wheels.
David Wright described the shock the family had experienced on the day of the accident. They had initially been told John Wright had suffered a broken leg to be told an hour later he was in a critical condition.
“John was an ordinary man. He was a worker and families have tragedies happen to them every day and they just have to continue. But this was a preventable tragedy and that’s scandalous,” Mr Wright said.
The company’s “carelessness”, he continued, contributed to him being killed and the case did at least help in that “the worst thing imaginable for us is if someone is seriously injured or killed in Mr Binman again”.
Efforts to mediate with the company were “a waste of time”, Mr Wright said. His mother Eileen later issued civil proceedings against the company and the family was “satisfied” with the settlement.
Mr Sheahan described John Wright as “a model employee” and extended his sympathy to the Wright family. “We have always taken health and safety seriously,” Mr Sheahan said, citing the appointment of a health and safety officer and the engagement of outside experts.