Haulage companies fined after driver paralysed

Two haulage companies have been sentenced for safety failings after a HGV driver was left paralysed from the chest down following an incident at a transport yard.

The 51-year-old man was crushed while closing the rear doors of his HGV when another lorry reversed into the area where he was working in the yard on Tyne Road, Sandy, Bedfordshire, which was rented by his employers H & M Distribution Ltd.

The worker, who did not wish to be named, will be unable to work again after suffering paralysis and a brain injury that has affected his sight. He has also lost most of the use of his arms.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted H & M Distribution Ltd and H E Payne Transport Ltd, the owners of the yard, on 29 July.

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 there was no documented procedure for vehicle movements in the transport yard. An Improvement Notice had been served on both companies requiring them to organise movements in the yard so that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate in a safe manner.

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.”

The case underlines the importance of taking the correct steps to protect the health and safety of employees, suppliers, customers, members of the public and others and others to avoid preventable accidents.

Employers seeking clarification or guidance on their health and safety responsibilities or facing prosecution can find out more by contacting Palmers’ health and safety specialists Lara Murray and Jeremy Sirrell.