A NATIONAL autocentre chain, which has its head office in Redditch, has been sentenced for safety failings after a worker suffered severe injuries when she was struck by a transit van at its depot in Acocks Green, Birmingham.

Michelle Sloan, 45, from Aston, was parked in front of the Halfords Autocentre reception to unload some parts. She was reaching into the back of the vehicle when a transit van reversed into her door, closing it and trapping her legs.

The door crushed both her knees causing a torn tendon in her left knee and a severed tendon in the right one. A year after the incident she is still struggling to walk and has been unable to return to work.

Halfords Autocentres Limited was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following its investigation into the incident on 25 October 2011.

Birmingham Magistrates' Court heard that Halfords failed to put suitable control measures in place to separate pedestrians and vehicles on the site and that had they done so, the incident would not have happened.

Halfords Autocentres Limited of Icknield Street Drive, Washford West, Redditch, pleaded guilty to a breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 for failing to ensure workers and vehicles could move safely around the site. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Matt Whitaker said: "Halfords Autocentres didn't carry out a proper assessment of the risks and, as a result, there was no safe system for keeping unloading vans separate from moving vehicles and pedestrians.

“The woman has suffered severe and debilitating injuries as a result of the company’s safety failings.

"Although it has since made improvements, it is disappointing that it took an incident of this nature for these changes to be made.”

Advice for companies on how vehicles can be kept at a safe distance from pedestrian workers is available at hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport.