Worker dies in tragic wheel accident: company ‘didn’t know what was going on in their own yard’


A court hearing has found a Salisbury skip hire firm guilty of several health and safety failings that led to the tragic death of employee Josef Trhan.

He died when the large industrial split rim wheel/tyre combination that he was working on exploded.

Mr Trhan’s responsibility was to sift through the waste that arrived at the yard of CB Skips. However, he was additionally being used to repair wheels and tyres on the company’s vehicle fleet.

The danger of split rim wheels

It is required that anyone working on such large split rim wheels has been given proper training and is experienced in this potentially dangerous work. CB Skips failed to do this, although they knew Mr Trhan was doing such work.

HSE inspectors discovered that workers were in the habit of welding together the spilt rim wheel parts together, which is a dangerous practice. Older welds, plus damage that had gone unrepaired, together led to a failure of the wheel in question to lock together correctly.

You must secure the interlocking parts before you inflate the inner tube, otherwise if the rim pulls apart it can burst the tube and cause a devastating blast of air.

Mr Trhan had welded the wheel together but then it failed as he inflated the tyre. He was kneeling down and was hit in the head and body by the metal parts as well as being blown head-first into an excavator shovel.

The company was found guilty of -

  • supplying dangerous machinery
  • failing to identify the hazards
  • not carrying out risk assessments on repairing wheels & tyres
  • not training workers
  • not supervising the repairs

The HSE report stated that ‘they didn´t know what was going on in their own yard’. It is hard to resist the conclusion that if CB Skips had engaged safety consultants to mount a proper risk assessment of the whole operation they could have identified the hazards and taken action to make their operation properly safe.

Skip companies are involved in the building and construction trades sector, and construction safety is a very important issue. This terrible accident is a reminder that it is not only falls from height and materials handling that are potential sources of danger. Vehicles are also very hazardous.

The inspector likened handling a less-than-perfect split rim to ‘working near a bomb waiting to go off at any moment’.

CB Skips pleaded guilty and were fined £150,000 plus £55,000 in costs.