Bus Company Fined £400,000 for Death of Bus Driver

On 18th December 2009, First was fined £400,000 plus costs after it was found guilty of breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states that: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."

Robert Cherry died on 18th May 2004 whilst preparing his bus for service at Uxbridge garage. As he stepped in between two parked buses, the front bus lurched backwards, crushing him against the rear stationary vehicle. He died at the scene.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation showed that traffic management at the garage was poor, particularly when buses left the garage at the start of the working day. The garage had originally been designed to hold 65 buses, but at the time of Mr Cherry's death it was the base for 119 vehicles. The garage was not well lit and drivers carrying out checks were forced to walk between closely parked buses that were manoeuvring to leave the garage.

The bus that struck Mr Cherry had a faulty gear selector that may have meant it was in a different gear to that indicated in the driver's cab. Checks carried out on similar buses after Mr Cherry's death revealed that four others based at Uxbridge had similar problems. A check at the company's other garages in London showed that 10 out of 60 buses were significantly faulty and a further 30 per cent suffered from more minor faults.

Robert Cherry died because his employer did not do enough to ensure his safety or that of his colleagues. The company's traffic management system was poor and it's processes for maintaining vehicles and for identifying and repairing defects were inadequate.

Like so many workplace accidents, this one was entirely preventable and should never have happened.