Director in court over work accident

A COMPANY director’s negligence of health and safety regulations left an employee with a long-term disability, a court heard.

Howard Charles Whitehead, 68, from Barnsley, was given a six-month suspended jail sentence for allowing an employee to get behind the wheel of a truck when he knew its brakes were not working properly.

A judge criticised Whitehead for the “disregard” he showed
for laws while at the helm of Wheaton Truck and Trailer Sales Ltd.

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He tried to escape responsibility by posing as an employee while naming his wife and daughter as company directors, despite the fact they played no role in decision-making.

He was ordered to pay £5,000 in compensation to Paul Blackwell, the worker who suffered multiple injuries in an accident in January last year when his left leg became trapped in a 10-tonne forklift truck. It took emergency services over two hours to cut him free and he has been left with a disability.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that Whitehead knew the forklift truck Mr Blackwell was driving was not working properly. Two expert witnesses said the vehicle was “scrap”.

The investigation, carried out by Barnsley Council, also found there had been “consistent failures” in compliance with health and safety requirements. Evidence showed Whitehead had ignored repeated warnings over the course of seven years.

Barnsley Council’s senior investigation officer, Stephen Butler, said: “This case should be a warning to other business owners that profit should never be put before the safety or health of employees.”