After John Walmsley dies in M25 crash highways Agency given Crown Censure by Health and Safety Executive

The Highways Agency has been issued with a severe sanction for safety failings after an experienced traffic officer was hit and killed by a car that went out of control.

Grandfather John Walmsley, 59, of Doria Drive, Gravesend, expired while dealing with an incident between junctions 4 and 5, on the M25 clockwise, on September 25, 2012.

A colleague and john was called to help using a car that had spun around after heavy rain, and had ended up pointing in the wrong way in a live lane on the motorway.

Walmsley’s partner and Mr he towed the vehicle to the hard shoulder as well as the pair, along with the car’s driver who was unhurt, were awaiting a recovery vehicle.

Mr Walmsley afterward walked down the hard shoulder, while using his phone, to keep his eye out for the truck when a second car skidded across the carriageway went out of control on the same bend and hit him.

Mr Walmsley perished at the scene. The driver was subsequently convicted of causing death by careless driving.

The Health and security Executive (HSE), which investigated, took the decision after identifying failures in the Highways Agency’s quarterly supervision tests at the Dartford outstation to deliver a Censure.

HSE found that despite the introduction in July 2011 by the Highways Agency of proper quarterly oversight checks of traffic officers by a team supervisor, none were carried out with Mr Walmsley between his death and August 2011.

More than half the traffic officers based at the Dartford depot had also not undergone any quarterly oversight checks while the Highways Agency had in place other health and safety training and policies, including informal supervisory checks.

HSE inspector Guy Widdowson, who investigated, said: “Mr Walmsley, who’d worked as a traffic officer for seven years, was killed because he wasn’t standing behind the security barrier when a car crashed on the motorway.

“If the Highways Agency had conducted the essential supervisory checks between July 2011 and his departure the following September, it may have ensured he followed the correct security procedures and prevented him from working the manner he did.”

After giving the censure, Mr Galloway added: “Without appropriate supervision, firms don’t have any means of knowing if their stated control measures are current and are being properly used. It is a vital measure in controlling hazards in the office.

The Highways Agency cannot face prosecution in exactly the same manner as non-government bodies. Crown Censures are established processes appropriate to Crown employers instead of criminal proceedings.

A Crown Censure is the maximum sanction for a government body that HSE can bring. Accepted is an official record of a failing to satisfy the standards set out in law, although there is no monetary penalty associated with Crown Censure.

Just after his departure, which happened two days before his 60th birthday, tribute was paid by Mr Walmsley’s family. A statement said: “John Walmsley, our father, was a great father, grandad and above all great husband, who is irreplaceable.

“He had the fondness and respect of just about everyone he come in touch with, because of his honesty and kindness with/to them” – the family of John Walmsley
“Our dad had the affection and admiration of just about everyone he come in contact with, because of his truthfulness and kindness with/to them.
“Our dad will be greatly missed by his family and all who understood him. xx”
John was a genuinely nice man doing a job he enjoyed, helping the public on the M25. A good friend and coworker.”

Many of his co-workers, including more than 170 patrol policemen attended his funeral at Gravesend Methodist Church, Milton Road, Gravesend,, and tributes comprised flowers in the form of his Highways Agency vehicle.

Mr Walmsley was born in Gravesend, and in the Methodist church, baptised and married. He left a wife, Brenda, son Lee and daughters Sarah and Donna.

Mr Walmsley worked for 30 years at Denton Wharf in Gravesend before joining the Highways Agency.