Haulage company fined after worker dies from injuries

A haulage company in Wales has been fined £100,000 after a worker fell from a loading bay and died.

The 63-year-old, from Hungary, had been preparing a load of trailers in his lorry ahead of departure from Williams Haulage Limited’s site at Deeside Industrial Estate on 16 March 2020. The load of trailers were due to be delivered to a site in Germany. He was not employed by Williams Haulage.

The man was trying to reach the top of his lorry, with one foot on the loading bay and the other on the back of another lorry.

However, he fell approximately 1.25 metres onto the concrete floor below when the adjacent lorry was driven away.

He sustained severe head injuries and died at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on 16 May 2020.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into this incident found Williams Haulage had carried out a risk assessment that identified the risk from falls and introduced control measures, but these had not been used in practice. There was a lack of supervision and monitoring by Williams Haulage to check that these control measures were being used by its staff. Additionally, insufficient consideration had been given to visiting drivers, particularly when English is not their first language.

HSE guidance can be found at: Management responsibilities – Workplace transport (hse.gov.uk)

Williams Haulage Limited, of Old Station Road, Cynwyd, Corwen, Clwyd, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £8,400.50 in costs at Llandudno Magistrates’ Court on 20 September 2023.

HSE inspector Matthew Pendle said: “Any fall can have devastating consequences – as has been shown in this case of a man working far from home. Haulage by nature means drivers who do not always speak English can visit sites – they must be protected.

“This incident could so easily have been avoided had the company simply ensured  the control measures and safe working practices were followed and that visiting drivers were informed of the site’s safety rules.”

This HSE prosecution was supported by HSE enforcement lawyer Nathan Cook.

HSE

September 2023

What we think

Falls from height remain the highest cause of workplace fatalities in the UK. Working at height can be any height above or below ground, where there is a risk of injury as a result of a fall. 1.25 metres is not a huge distance to fall but the ground surface and other obstacles that might be hit during the fall, can increase the consequence of falling such a short distance. We are seeing more and more companies introducing control measures to prevent falls from heights whilst on the back of lorries; these include adapting vehicles so barriers and fall arrest systems are put in place as a preventative measure. Where these safety systems are in place, there needs to be more information, instruction and training in connection with using them. We have seen good safety systems available, are not fully implemented and as a result, are not being used. One of the reasons for not using safety equipment and following safe systems of work is due to operatives cutting corners to get the job done quicker. Therefore, part of the controls should be supervision which ensures that operatives are using any safety equipment provided and following the safe system of work. Maybe this unfortunate accident resulting in someone losing their life would not have happened if the above had been in place.

How we can help

Wiser Safety have a variety of solutions including the following:

  • Review of existing Policies, Procedures and Safe Systems of Work
  • Development of Safe Systems of Work including suitable and sufficient Risk Assessments
  • Provision of appropriate Training
  • Workplace safety audits
  • Toolbox Talks / Briefings

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