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April 1, 2011

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Lorry driver killed by falling load

A lorry driver was killed when two steel safety gates fell off his vehicle and landed on him during an inadequately planned lifting operation.

Andrew Brown, 58, worked for James Paterson Haulage Ltd and was delivering 20 steel gates from Mackay Steelwork and Cladding Ltd’s yard in Belney, near Invergordon, to a garden centre in Inverness, when the incident took place on 27 August 2008.

When Mr Brown arrived at the garden centre he removed the securing straps from his freight and began to assist a forklift truck driver in unloading the gates. He directed the forklift driver to ensure that the forks were positioned underneath one of the two stacks of gates. It is believed he then walked around to the far side of the lorry to place the straps inside a storage box, which was located next to the fuel tank. As he was bending over to open the box, the forklift’s prongs extended beyond the first pile of gates and struck the second pile, causing four of the gates to fall off the lorry. Two of the gates landed on Mr Brown, who died at the scene as a result of serious neck injuries.

HSE inspector Graeme McMinn explained that both companies failed to adequately liaise with each other, or obtain enough information to ensure a safe system of work was in place, particularly in relation to the role Mr Brown would play in unloading the gates. He went on to say that one method of doing this would have been to create a segregated clear zone to prevent workers from standing around the lorry as it was being unloaded.

Inspector McMinn said: “This was a horrific and entirely avoidable incident. If proper safety measures had been taken, Mr Brown could still be alive today. Those involved in arranging and carrying out deliveries should exchange and agree information to ensure lorries can be loaded and unloaded in a safe manner.

“They must make sure a safe way of working is in place and that workers have clear responsibilities, so everyone involved in the lifting operation knows what everyone else is meant to be doing and where they are meant to be.”

James Paterson Haulage Ltd appeared at Inverness Sheriff Court on 29 March and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974 and was fined £13,000. Mackay Steelwork and Cladding appeared at the same hearing and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the Act and was fined £40,000.

In mitigation, James Paterson Haulage said it has now employed the services of a safety consultancy, which has subsequently led to it reviewing its method statement and risk assessment for loading and unloading of vehicles. It also now records more information when booking jobs, in order so it can agree a safe method of work with the client before starting the unloading job.

Mackay Steelwork and Cladding has subsequently created a loading gantry so workers are not standing at ground level when unloading vehicles. It has also provided staff with fresh training on how to safely unload deliveries.

Approaches to managing the risks associated Musculoskeletal disorders

In this episode of the Safety & Health Podcast, we hear from Matt Birtles, Principal Ergonomics Consultant at HSE’s Science and Research Centre, about the different approaches to managing the risks associated with Musculoskeletal disorders.

Matt, an ergonomics and human factors expert, shares his thoughts on why MSDs are important, the various prevalent rates across the UK, what you can do within your own organisation and the Risk Management process surrounding MSD’s.

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