A berth operator at an Essex Port has been fined £20,000 for safety failings after an employee had both legs amputated after they were crushed by a cargo container.

William James, 73, was working on Stanton Grove Limited’s berth 47 within the Port of Tilbury when the incident occurred on 26 March 2010.

The dock worker was returning to a safe refuge under a quayside crane when he was knocked down by a 45ft container being lowered by a reach stacker. The driver of the reach stacker, unaware that Mr James was on the quayside and had been knocked down, continued to lower the container onto his legs. They were crushed to such a degree that they later had to be amputated.

Basildon Crown Court heard on the 9th of May that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Stanton Grove had failed to ensure the safety of Mr James while he was working on the quayside.

Stanton Grove Limited, based at Tower Wharf, Northfleet, Kent, admitted breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £20,000. The awarding of costs will be determined at a later date.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Toni Drury, said:

“This incident clearly demonstrates why it is essential that the risk arising from the movement of vehicles and large lifting plant at docks is carefully managed.

“It is common for a wide range of vehicles and equipment to have to use shared space on the docks. There may also be workers on foot undertaking tasks such as guiding loads, removing twistlocks or supervising operations. Good co-ordination and co-operation between all those who are in control of the berth, the operations and the workforce is a necessity, and an agreed safe system of work must be properly communicated and training provided to all involved.

“HSE will not hesitate to take action where there is a risk of serious harm to people at work.”

Mr James’s employer Castlekeep Limited was also prosecuted for alleged breaches of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company was found not guilty at an earlier hearing.