Fatal unloading accidents prompt large corporate fines

Three companies have been fined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in November after two separate incidents involving unloading trailers resulted in fatal injuries.

First, transport company Arnold Laver & Co was fined £400,000 after one of its drivers was killed after being knocked off his trailer while loading and unloading it.

On 16 November 2020, Robert Gifkins was delivering timber to a company in Whaddon near Salisbury. He had climbed onto the bed of his trailer to sling the load and attach it to the vehicle-mounted crane. While moving the load using the crane’s remote control, he was struck by the crane and fell from the vehicle to the ground. He was taken to hospital and subsequently died on 17 December 2020.

An investigation by the HSE found that this incident was the result of health and safety failings by the company. The risks associated this work at height had not been properly assessed and the risk of falls had not been adequately prevented or controlled. The company had also not provided Gifkins with sufficient training and instruction on the safe operation of the remote crane controls on the vehicle.

The company was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £19,841.99.

Elsewhere, two companies have been fined after a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver suffered fatal chest injuries while unstrapping a load on a trailer. Andrew Bayley-Machin, 41, was fatally crushed when he was hit by a pack of steel gates that fell approximately three metres from a load on a flatbed trailer.

The vehicle had been loaded at Joseph Ash Ltd of Stafford Park 6, Telford and driven by Bayley-Machin to the premises of his employer LM Bateman & Company Ltd in Cheadle Road, Cheddleton, Staffordshire where the incident happened on 20 June 2018.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that arrangements for planning and restraining loads were inadequate to ensure that the stability of goods was independent of the load straps so that release of the straps did not allow the load to fall from the vehicle.

Joseph Ash Limited of Solihull, West was fined £239,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,834. LM Bateman and Company Limited was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,334.

Following the hearing, HSE inspector Wendy Campbell said: “This death would have been prevented had an effective system for managing load restraint been in place at both companies. This is a reminder to all companies of the need to properly assess and apply effective control measures when securing loads to minimise the risks from transporting goods on road vehicles.”

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