A north-western haulage firm has been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £90,000 after one of its employees was crushed to death when an HGV became loose and rolled across a yard.
The company was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive after an investigation found that while a risk assessment had been carried out, it was not specific to the risks involved in the particular job being carried out by the employee. Liverpool Crown Court heard that the employee had been working at the site through the weekend, and had been asked to line up the vehicles in preparation for the beginning of the working week. However, it was discovered that the employee did not usually operate articulated lorries and had not received the appropriate training on coupling and uncoupling the vehicles from their trailers.
The HSE found that there was not a safe system of work for coupling and uncoupling the vehicles and that the handbrake of the vehicle in question had not been applied. While the company had put in place a general risk assessment the year previous, it did not cover the specific aspects of connecting trucks to trailers and did not consider the risk of runaway vehicles. The court was told that an external Health and Safety adviser had highlighted the lack of a specific risk assessment, but that no action was subsequently taken.
Speaking after the hearing, the HSE Inspector involved said that the case highlighted the need for transport companies to ensure that all of their employees have the correct training for any jobs they are to carry out. They should also act on advice from health and safety experts and make sure safe systems of work are in place.
This case highlights the needs of any business to ensure not only that risk assessments are carried out, but that they are thorough enough to identify all of the dangers present, and that action is taken to manage all the risks identified.
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