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June 22, 2009

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Lorry driver crushed by unsecured load

A printing firm has been fined after a delivery driver became trapped between two large rolls of paper and sustained serious crush injuries.

Graham Attwater was working as a delivery driver for a road haulage firm when the incident took place on 12 June 2008. He was delivering 15 reels of industrial paper to a commercial printing factory in Elland, West Yorkshire.

The reels were loaded in two single-tier rows inside the lorry and were held in place by chocks. The vehicle was parked on a slight incline, and when the chocks were removed Mr Attwater pushed the reels, which rolled down a ramp and came to rest in a valley between the trailer and the dock leveller.

Each of the reels was covered with plastic sheeting to stop the paper getting damaged. But if two of the reels came into contact the plastic covers often got stuck together, and could only be freed with the use of a crowbar. On the day of the incident two of the rolls on the right-hand side of the lorry became stuck, so Mr Attwater began to unload the reels in the other row. As he did this, the blocked reels broke free, and one moved backwards trapping him between another roll.

As a result, he received serious crush injuries and was treated in hospital for a fractured pelvis and a ruptured bladder. Due to the severity of his injuries he was unable to return to work for seven months, and is only capable of working reduced hours and carrying out light duties.

In October 2008 the HSE issued an Improvement Notice against the factory, ordering it to implement a safe system of work for the unloading of vehicles.

Factory owner, Waddington and Ledger Ltd, appeared at Halifax Magistrates’ Court on 29 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA. It was fined £14,000 and ordered to pay £3205 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and has fully complied with the Improvement Notice. As a result, it now unloads deliveries from the side of the lorry using a forklift, which prevents the need for manual handling.

HSE inspector Jackie Ferguson said: “This was a serious and potentially life-threatening incident. The driver has not fully recovered from his injuries.

“Such dangerous occurrences can be avoided. The risks associated with the loading and unloading of vehicles serving the print industry are well-known. HSE has issued specific advice stating that unloading of reels needs to be done with equipment like a clamp, boom, or pole attachment on a lift truck, and in accordance with a safe system of work.”

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