Crown Censure issued to Highways Agency after traffic officer’s death

12/01/2015
Highways Reporters

The Highways Agency has been issued with a Crown Censure – the equivalent of a criminal prosecution – for safety failings after an experienced traffic officer was struck and killed by a car that went out of control on the M25.

Grandfather John Walmsley, 59, from Gravesend in Kent, was deployed with a colleague to an incident on the M25, between junctions 4 and 5 clockwise, on 25 September 2012. They were faced with a car that had spun around after heavy rain, ending up pointing in the wrong direction in a live lane on the motorway.

Mr Walmsley and his partner had towed the vehicle to the hard shoulder and the pair, along with the car’s driver who was unhurt, were awaiting a recovery vehicle.

Mr Walmsley then walked down the hard shoulder, and was using his phone, to keep his eye out for the truck when a second car went out of control on the same bend, skidded across the carriageway and hit him. He died at the scene. The driver was subsequently convicted of causing death by careless driving.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigated, took the decision to deliver a Censure after identifying failures in the Highways Agency’s quarterly supervision checks at the Dartford outstation.

HSE found that despite the introduction in July 2011 by the Highways Agency of formal quarterly supervision checks of traffic officers by a team manager, these quarterly supervision checks were not carried out with Mr Walmsley between August 2011 and the date of his death. While the Highways Agency had in place other health and safety training and policies, including informal supervisory checks, more than half the traffic officers based at the Dartford depot had also not undergone any quarterly supervision checks.

HSE said the Highways Agency therefore did not provide the necessary supervision to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees.

The Censure was administered at Ashford Borough Council by HSE’s regional director (southern division) Tim Galloway and accepted by Simon Sheldon-Wilson, executive director of customer operations for the Highways Agency.

HSE Inspector Guy Widdowson, who investigated, said: “Mr Walmsley, who had worked as a traffic officer for seven years, was killed because he was not standing behind the safety barrier when a car crashed on the motorway. If the Highways Agency had conducted the necessary supervisory checks between July 2011 and his death the following September, it may have ensured he followed the correct safety procedures and prevented him from working the way he did.

After delivering the Censure, Tim Galloway added: “Without proper supervision, companies have no way of knowing if their specified control measures are up to date and are being properly used. It is a vital step in controlling risks in the workplace.

“This is the case for staff who work for the Highways Agency, or indeed any other similar organisation out on the UK road network, just as much as it applies to those who work within a more traditional environment.”

The Highways Agency cannot face prosecution in the same way as non-government bodies. Crown Censures are agreed procedures applicable to Crown employers instead of criminal proceedings.

A Highways Agency spokesman said: “John is always in our thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with his family, friends, and colleagues.

“While the Health and Safety Executive investigation was prompted by John’s death on duty in September 2012, the details of the case brought against the Agency relate specifically to a failure to provide the necessary supervision of traffic officers based at Dartford outstation in accordance with our own procedures and to ensure the health and safety of all our employees.

“Accepting and respecting this judgment, we have taken steps to ensure that our procedures are appropriate to the health and safety of our staff, and that we all follow those procedures. We remain absolutely committed to the health and safety of our people, learning from this experience.”

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

INSIDE:

  • COP26: The sector reacts
  • Road pricing: Putting the theory into practice
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Environmental Data Officer

£26,592
In this role you will collect, maintain and manage high quality energy and environmental data, and providing... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Engineer - Highways Asset Maintenance

£39,854 to £43,741 (Pay Award Pending)
There’s never been a more exciting time to join Doncaster Council. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Doncaster Council

Director of Environmental & Community Services

Up to £90,096 per annum
We seek an energetic and committed Director who has the right motivations and values; someone who is... Long Eaton, Nottingham
Recruiter: Erewash Borough Council

Transport Infrastructure Commissioning Officer

£30,451 to £34,728 per annum
We have a great opportunity in Somerset to join our Highways and Transport Service. Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Team Manager Band 3 – Environment Strategy & Change

£46,845 - £48,849 per annum
This is the perfect time to join St Helens and become part of our exhilarating journey and help build our legacy for the future. St Helens, Merseyside
Recruiter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Noise and Nuisance Officer

£32,301 - £35,949 per annum
To be successful in the Noise and Nuisance Team you will need a genuine commitment to... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Team Manager Band 3 - Fleet, Depot & Security

£46,845 - £48,849 per annum
This is the perfect time to join St Helens and become part of our exhilarating journey and help build our legacy for the future. St Helens, Merseyside
Recruiter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Asset Manager

£42,821 - £46,845 per annum
The Highway Asset Manager is responsible for the strategic management of all the council’s highway assets... Blackburn, Lancashire
Recruiter: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Digital Evidence Officer

£25.137 - £26.520
The Digital Evidence (CCTV) Team are responsible for improving community safety outcomes throughout the Royal Borough of Greenwich by... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Guaranteed Relief Cleaners North and South Kirklees Area

£9.25 per hour
Some of the key features and benefits of being part of the Kirklees Cleaning Service include... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Group Engineer - Safety Design

£40,876 - £45,859
We are looking for an experienced engineer to join our Highways Safety Design team. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Group Engineer - Highways Network Management

£40,876 - £45,859
Are you experienced engineer looking for an opportunity to improve the lives of the local people of our towns and village centres? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Energy and Sustainability Officer

£37.722 - £40.869
The role will be key to successful progress of the Carbon Neutral Plan and setting the borough on the path to reaching the net zero target.  Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Transport Development Team Leader

£53,018 - £59,964 per annum + Staff Benefits
We're looking for an experienced and innovative engineer. Woking, Surrey
Recruiter: Surrey County Council

Principal Transport Planner

£43.860 - £46.839
We are looking for an experienced transport planner to lead crucial sections of the Transport Strategy Group’s work. Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Highways Presents

 

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video