In the first case, involving Arkenfield Stable Hire Limited the employee was killed by a passing car on a public road while he was acting as a "banksman" guiding one of the company's lorry drivers on a reversing manoeuvre. The employer was fined a total of £7,500 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000.
In the second case, against Freight First Ltd the employee was crushed to death by a runaway trailer he was trying to move into position in a works vehicle yard. While attempting to couple a trailer to a cab, the trailer and cab started rolling away from him. He then tried to run down the side of the trailer in order to enter the cab. He was found not to have received proper training on how to couple and uncouple HGV trailers. His employer was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £67,500 in prosecution costs.
Each case was prosecuted under statutory provisions which place a higher duty upon the employer than the common law. The Enterprise and regulatory Reform Act 2013 had removed the bereaved families' right to rely upon these provisions in support any civil damages claim, but the recent decision of the UK Supreme Court in Kennedy v Cordia (Services) LLP has now significantly improved their prospects. That case determined that in order to comply with the civil duty to take reasonable care at common law employers are now expected to carry out risk assessments to identify, manage and control risks to a safe level. Where they fail to do so, and there is an accident, the court can then find that there has been a negligent omission by the employer. If a proper risk assessment would have revealed the risk of injury to the banksmen and the need for further controls, i.e. warning signs placed on the public road or lack of proper training; or, if it would have identified a need for further training in lorry shunting activities then in both cases a much stronger argument for civil liability can be made.