Nat Ex fined over Walsall depot death

National Express Group plc subsidiary West Midlands Travel Ltd (WMT) has been fined 150,000 and ordered to pay costs of 35,119, after the death of an employee.

Assistant Mechanic Lee Baker, 24, was on a night shift at Walsall depot on 22 October 2011. He worked for the firm for five years. .

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that he was attempting to move a double-decker to get access to a pit, but the reverse gear wouldn’t work. He and a colleague attempted to push it backwards.

Mr Baker went into the cab, intending to put it into neutral but inadvertently left it in drive. The bus has an automatic safety device engaging the parking brake when the doors are open.

As a result, when he got off and closed the doors, the parking brake automatically disengaged after three seconds and the bus moved towards the two men, who were then in front of the bus ready to push. Although his colleague managed to jump out of the way, Mr Baker didn’t and was crushed between two vehicles.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that no supervisor was on duty and that WMT allowed the practice of workers pushing buses, failed to perform a suitable assessment of the risks in moving buses manually, and had not trained staff in a safe system of work.

The lack of a clear, safe system of work and a supervisor had led to Mr Baker attempting to devise his own way of dealing with a problem that was preventing him from getting on with his work.