Accident victim's anger over safety investigation

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 July 2011

Lorry Driver Stephen Jones, injured at  work, is pursuing legal action.

Lorry Driver Stephen Jones, injured at work, is pursuing legal action.

Archant

A LORRY driver who had his leg broken in an accident at a supermarket depot has criticised a council investigation into the incident.

Stephen Jones was working as a contract driver at budget chain Lidl’s Weston-based distribution depot on November 12 when a forklift collided with him, leaving him with a badly broken leg.

North Somerset Council was forced to investigate the incident twice, after health and safety officers admitted that in the first investigation they had not interviewed Mr Jones after confusing him with another man.

The self-employed 50-year-old says that council officers dealing with the matter came round to his house and apologised personally after they decided not to prosecute the company, despite not questioning him.

The error came after officers confused him with another man with the same name who worked at the depot, and who had signed a manual handling register used to report damage by Lidl staff.

The Burlington Street resident said: “If they were doing their jobs properly then they wouldn’t have had to investigate it twice, and use twice as much money from taxpayers in Weston to do so – that’s what I’m really concerned about here.

“As a lorry driver, if I get something disastrously wrong I won’t get a second chance, it’s the same with the police or the ambulance service, but how many times has the health and safety department had to do two investigations?

“I want to know if the staff are properly trained. Who oversees the department? I’m concerned that if they didn’t do their job properly on this occasion, that another body should investigate the way they operate.

“The second investigation said that it was not in the public interest to prosecute and while I don’t agree with a lot of the things in that report, at least it had been done properly and all the evidence and people involved were considered – how could you reach a decision without doing that in the first place?”

A spokesman for the council said: “In relation to the error made during the initial investigation - this was not verifying with Stephen Jones that the signature on the Lidl training form was not his but that of a relief driver also named Jones. Once Stephen Jones brought this to our attention the investigation was restarted and in our view thoroughly and comprehensively carried out.”

Mr Jones added that Lidl had now agreed to take responsibility for the accident, and that settlement discussions are ongoing.

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