A company that failed to ensure two of its workers were sufficiently rested to work and travel safely before they crashed into a parked articulated lorry and died has been fined £450,000.

Welding contractor Renown Consultants was also ordered to pay £300,000 in costs following a complex case in which Zac Payne, 20, and Michael Morris, 48, died while travelling in a company van following a night shift.

The van veered off the A1 motorway, crashing into the parked vehicle and killing both the driver and the passenger in June 2013.

The sentence was passed virtually by His Honour Judge Godsmark sitting at Nottingham Crown Court after Renown were found guilty on 19 March following a prosecution by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

Read more

The ORR told the court that Payne, who like his colleague was employed on a zero-hours contract, was suffering the effects of fatigue and may have fallen asleep at the wheel or experienced ‘microsleeps’, which hugely increased the risk of a traffic accident.

The court heard that as Payne was only 20 he should not have been driving as the company’s fleet insurance policy stipulated a minimum age of 25.

The judge said Renown’s gravest failing was to perform a suitable and sufficient risk assessment on the day before the fatalities, which led to the company failing to comply with its own fatigue management procedures, nor did it comply with the working time limits for safety critical work.

Ian Prosser, HM chief inspector of railways said: “We hope this has acted as a reminder to companies that safety comes first and fatigue policies should be enforced to ensure their workforce is not too tired to work.”

The FTA has since called for a major increase in roadside checks on vans to raise standards in the sector.