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August 27, 2010

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Lorry driver left brain-damaged by falling load

A delivery driver suffered brain damage when a panel saw fell and struck him in the head as he was unloading it from a lorry.

On 16 August 2007, Nicholas Holmes, 49, was delivering panel saws from Joda Freight Ltd’s depot in West Yorkshire to the Saw Centre in Glasgow. He had not loaded the vehicle himself and was not given any information about how the saws were secured inside the lorry.

The saws, which are used to cut large wooden sheets into sized parts, each weighed 290kg and were secured by a number of straps, which had been fixed using two different techniques to hold the machines in place. One of the saws was secured using a combination of over-strapping and direct strapping, which meant some straps passed over the load, and some were attached directly to the saw. Mr Holmes was unaware that both methods were in use and wasn’t able to identify, from ground level, that two of the straps were attached directly to the saw.

When he removed the straps the saw became unstable and toppled over, striking him in the head. He suffered serious injuries, which have left him unable to return to work.

An Improvement Notice was issued to Mr Holmes’ employer, Joda Freight Ltd, on 6 January 2009, which required it to put in place a system of communication to inform drivers about how a load has been secured.

HSE inspector Jean Edgar said: “This was a horrific incident and will have terrible consequences for Mr Holmes and his family for many years to come.

“Haulage companies must make sure information is properly communicated between drivers in how a load is secured and strapped. Verbal messages through a third party may not be enough.

“This is particularly important where the delivery driver did not load the vehicle, and has little information on the precise strapping method used to secure it.”

Joda Freight appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court on 25 August and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £5000, and no costs were sought, as the case was heard in Scotland.

In mitigation, the company said it had no previous convictions and has complied with the Improvement Notice. It has now implemented a reliable system to relay information about how loads have been secured. It has also provided training to ensure that staff are aware of safe loading techniques.

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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13 years ago

You presume to much Graham.
If the driver is found negligent, his up and coming compensation claim against the company will be reduced accordingly.
The article actually states that the company has “also provided training to ensure that staff are aware of safe loading techniques”.
Make of this statement what you will but i wouldnt presume that the company hadnt provided safe loading training previously, neither would i presume they had, thats what record keeping is all about.

13 years ago

in this new world of ‘just-in-time’ delivery practice, drivers do not have the time to examine loads, particularly mixed or complex loads such as this, training is non-existant and the whole way that responsibilities are heaped on the lowest part of the food chain is scandalous, how can drivers examine loads that are sealed at the point of loading? how can it be safe to call drivers in at 4 or 5am and give them just enough time to reach delivery point? no time is allocated for load checking!

13 years ago

Although the whole story probably isn’t divulged here didn’t the driver have a large degree of responsibility to ensure he knew how the load was secured since he would have transported it on public roads. While having a huge amount of sympathy for this person and his family surely there must be some degree of contributory negligence here presuming, being a delivery driver, he had training and knowledge of safe loads?

13 years ago

This lorry driver did not have any knowledge of how this item was loaded,or adequate training, It was his first job as HGV driver and unfortunately last. Thankfully justice has been done and he has been cleared of all blame. It was stated as being a trap for any driver no matter how experienced .so Graham F you PRESUME too much. as stated previously.jJust hope nothing like that ever happens to you.