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Council’s Health and Safety Inspectors successfully prosecute car auction firm

British Car Auctions Ltd was fined £1.1million and ordered to pay over £97,000 in costs and other orders at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday 2 March having pleaded guilty to a single count of breaching s3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, being a failure to protect non-employees from harm at their Paddock Wood Car Auction site.

Authorised Health and Safety Inspectors from the Council’s Environmental Health team investigated an accident involving a Mr Geoffrey Husher that occurred on 3 October 2018. A vehicle being driven down a ramp to the auction hall, collided with two customers, one of whom managed to roll over the bonnet. However, Mr Husher, the second customer, was unable to avoid the vehicle and was crushed between the car and an Armco barrier sustaining life changing injuries. Sadly he died in August 2019 for reasons unconnected with the incident.

The investigation, led by Justene Lawal, Senior Environmental Health Officer at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, identified that the company had recognised potential hazards associated with pedestrians and vehicles and identified some controls but had failed to adequately implement those controls.

Council Cabinet member Councillor Jane March said:

This was a very sad incident and my thoughts are with Mr Husher’s family as I am sure that knowing this court case was taking place will have been difficult for them.

The Council has a responsibility to enforce health and safety in certain types of premises which it has done on this occasion. It does not do so lightly but with the protection of employees and members of the public in mind.

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