Amey and Mouchel Parkman have been fined a total of £60,000 following the death of a worker who fell from a cherry picker on a dual carriageway in Liverpool in August 2006.
The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted Amey Infrastructure Services and Mouchel Parkman Services following the incident on the A5036 Princess Way in Seaforth.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that Peter Cole, from Lymm in Cheshire, had been replacing the lights on the central reservation when the cherry picker's lifting arm collapsed. The 61-year-old, who was married with three children and three grandchildren, fell nearly eight metres and landed on the back of the vehicle. He died from his injuries in hospital later that day.
Cole was employed by Amey Infrastructure Services, part of the Amey Mouchel joint venture with Mouchel Parkman Services. The HSE investigation found neither company had adequate systems for checking and maintaining the cherry picker, both when it was first delivered or throughout the hire period.
The cherry picker needed to be repaired on several occasions while it was on hire to the companies, and had been subjected to heavy use in all weather conditions for almost a decade.
Speaking after the hearing, Cole's brother, Len, 71, from Lydiate in Merseyside, said: "His death has destroyed the lives of his whole family. Peter and I were totally different characters but we got on great together. He was my closest friend as well as my brother.
"We both loved the countryside and used to go shooting together. We also met up to go to car boot sales and antiques fares. I just miss the banter there used to be between us.
"Everyone had a good word for Peter and he was well respected and liked. He was a decent man and would have trusted that the cherry picker was safe when he climbed into it.
"It's unbelievable that it wasn't regularly checked and tested, and instead was just put out into use. It happened to be him in that cherry picker on that day but it could have been anyone. We all miss him so much."
HSE investigating inspector, Dave Guyers, added: "Both companies had a legal duty to ensure Cole remained safe but their checking and maintenance systems were inadequate and thus allowed him to use a cherry picker that was in a poor condition.
"Heavy usage and a regular repair record demand that checking and maintenance procedures are carried out thoroughly. This is vital with cherry pickers which place users at great risk when working at height.
"All companies must have effective checking and maintenance systems in place and act upon the findings from them. Ageing machinery should be maintained properly and responsibly – not doing so increases the likelihood of this sort of incident."
Amey Infrastructure pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. The company, of Edmund Halley Road, Oxford, was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £32,500 in prosecution costs on 1 December.
Mouchel Parkman, also of Edmund Halley Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the same act for failing to ensure Cole's safety. The company was fined £30,000 with costs of £32,500.
The HSE said 38 people were killed in Great Britain last year as a result of a fall and more than 4,000 suffered major injuries.