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August 1, 2014

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£250,000 in fines for haulage companies after HGV driver is paralysed


An HGV driver was left paralysed from the chest down and suffered an injury to his brain following a crush incident at a transport yard in Sandy, Bedfordshire, a court has heard. The HSE said there was a ‘dangerous lack of segregation’ at the site.

The 51-year-old’s employers, H & M Distribution Ltd, and yard owners H E Payne Transport Ltd were sentenced for safety failings relating to the incident in which the man, from St. Ives, was crushed by a reversing lorry as he tried to close the rear doors of his vehicle. 

The worker, who does not wish to be named, suffered life-changing injuries and will be unable to work again. As well as his paralysis, he suffered a brain injury which has affected his sight and has lost most of the use of his arms.

The incident was investigated by the HSE, which this week (29 July) prosecuted both companies.

The court heard that before setting out on a delivery, the driver pulled his loaded HGV forward of the loading bay so he could close the rear doors. As he was doing so, a curtain-sided lorry reversed alongside the bay into the area he was working in, crushing him between the two vehicles.

HSE’s investigation revealed that despite both companies being road hauliers, there was no documented procedure for vehicle movements in the transport yard. An Improvement Notice was served on both companies requiring them to organise movements in the yard so pedestrians and vehicles could circulate in a safe manner, which was complied with.

H & M Distribution Ltd of Sankey Valley Industrial Estate, Newton-le-Willows, was fined a total of £150,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,996 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

H E Payne Transport Ltd of The Lane, Wyboston, Bedfordshire, was fined a total of £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £13,996 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

After the case, HSE Inspector Emma Rowlands said: “This was a horrific and entirely preventable injury caused by the shared failure of both companies to recognise the hazards arising from loading operations at the transport yard and their duty to protect the people working there.

“Our investigation found that there was no documented procedure which allowed workplace transport and pedestrians to circulate the site in safety, and a dangerous lack of segregation between vehicles and workers on foot.  Tragically, as a result an employee is now paralysed for life.”

Nobody was available at either company to comment on the case. 

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