Bus operator National Express West Midlands was today fined £150,000 following the death of an employee after he was crushed between two buses at its depot in Walsall.
Lee Baker, a 24-year-old assistant mechanic, was working a night shift at the National Express subsidiary's base in Carl Street, when the incident happened in October 2011.
Mr Baker, who lived in Walsall with his partner and then 20-month-old daughter, died as a result of his injuries several months later, having never regained consciousness.
Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that Mr Baker was attempting to move a double-decker bus to get access to a pit but the reverse gear would not work.
He and a colleague attempted to push the bus backwards to get it past a single-decker vehicle parked closeby and sideways on to the double-decker.
Mr Baker went into the cab of the bus, which has an automatic safety device engaging the parking brake when the doors are open, with intention of putting the gearbox in neutral. He inadvertently left it in drive.
As a result, when he got off and closed the doors, the parking brake automatically disengaged and the bus moved towards the two men who were then in front of the bus ready to push.
Although his colleague managed to jump out of the way, Mr Baker did not and was crushed between the two vehicles. He died on February 12, 2012.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said its investigation found that no supervisor was on duty and National Express West Midlands had failed to perform a suitable assessment of the risks in moving buses manually.
The HSE also found employees had not been trained in a safe system for moving buses not under their own power and had allowed the practice of workers pushing them during the night shifts.
The company had a recovery agency to tow broken down vehicles but only supervisors had been briefed in relation to calling them out prior to the incident.
The HSE said that the lack of a clear, safe system of work and a supervisor had led to Mr Baker attempting to devise his own solution to the problem.
National Express West Midlands had earlier pleaded guilty to one breach of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and a separate offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In addition to the £150,000 fine, it was ordered to pay costs of £35,119.
HSE inspector Eve-Marie Edwards said after the hearing: "It is clear that the failings of National Express West Midlands contributed significantly to this young man’s death.
"The company has since introduced a number of safety measures to prevent a recurrence. It is a pity a young man had to die, in what was an avoidable incident, for that to happen."
A spokesman for National Express said: "Our thoughts are with Lee Baker's family on what has been another difficult day for them. We respect the judge's decision on the fine awarded in this case. We also welcome his comments on our excellent safety record."