Bus company admits failures over tragedy of worker crushed between vehicles

A bus company has admitted failing to ensure the safety of workers after a mechanic died when he was crushed between two vehicles at a depot.

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Lee Baker

West Midlands Travel Ltd pleaded guilty to two charges at its Carl Street garage in Walsall after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

Lee Baker suffered brain damage following an accident at the National Express West Midlands base in October 2011. He died four months later at Walsall Manor Hospital.

The bus company accepted not ensuring the safety of its workers by failing to ensure they were supervised adequately and failing to perform a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks to its workers, including Mr Baker and Simon Clarke, during the movement of vehicles not under their own power.

However, the firm denied a charge of failing to provide comprehensive and relevant information at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday and it was agreed that charge should remain on the file and not be pursued.

The case was adjourned until June 27 for sentencing with the full hearing anticipated to last two-and-a-half hours.

Mr David Travers, defending, said: “This is a matter arising from a tragic incident and it is a matter which will take the court a little time to sentence.”

National Express West Midlands is the trading name of West Midlands Travel Limited. In a statement after the hearing they said: “Our thoughts are with Lee Baker’s family and what has been another difficult day for them. As this case is on-going we are unable to comment further.”

An inquest heard how 24-year-old Mr Baker, of Churchill Road, Walsall, was attempting to push a double-decker bus when it rolled forward and crushed him against another.

The hearing at Smethwick Coroner’s Court in 2012 was told Mr Baker asked bus driver Simon Clarke to help him move the double decker after he was unable to reverse it due to a problem with the gear stick.

They tried to push it, but it moved forward and they could not hold the weight. It was found the bus had been left in gear.

A jury ruled Mr Baker’s death following the incident at around 2.40am was accidental but said a lack of supervision had been a factor in the incident, at 2.40am on October 21, 2011. He left a 20-month-old daughter called Katie.

Following the inquest his partner Donna Bradley, who had been with him for three years, paid tribute to the mechanic.

“He was energetic, full of life, bubbly and outgoing,” she said.