Up to 18 drivers altered records to show they had taken rest breaks, when they had not.
Kevin Rooney, traffic commissioner for the north east and responsible for the licensing and regulation of HGV operators, said: “The falsification of records to make it appear that drivers had taken appropriate rest goes absolutely to the heart of road safety. In the case of this operator, five out of seven drivers investigated in 2014 were found to be so offending. A follow-up investigation in 2015 found the offending, if anything, had worsened with 18 drivers found to be offending.
“This was at a time when the company had been under the DVSA [Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency] spotlight as well as been subject to a Health and Safety Executive investigation in relation to the manslaughter of one of its drivers.”
Baldwins Crane Hire was found guilty of corporate manslaughter and fined £700,000 in December 2015 after employee Lindsay Easton was fatally injured when the crane he was driving suffered a brake failure and crashed.
Rooney added: “I do not know if my decision will mean the end of Baldwins Crane Hire, but I make my judgement on proportionality on the assumption that it will. The failures are so significant and deep-rooted and inspired by the very top of the business that I find it entirely appropriate that this license be revoked.”
From 10 September, company founder and executive chairman Richard Baldwin will be prohibited from applying for or holding a goods vehicle licence in any traffic area for a year, while his son, Wayne Baldwin, will be banned from doing so for five years. Operations director Andrew Skelton will be disqualified for two years and Lorraine Baldwin faces an indefinite ban.
While the ban applies to Baldwins Crane Hire’s HGV fleet, it does not impact on the company’s mobile cranes, of which it has more than 80.
In a statement posted on the company’s website yesterday, Richard Baldwin said: “For the sake of clarification, this disqualification only relates to the individuals being directors or senior managers in a company that holds an operator’s licence (that is to say a company carrying out haulage activities, whether for hire or reward or for use in connection with the company’s own business).
“The disqualification does not prevent them being a director or senior manager in any other company – for example the crane hire company. The disqualifications are, in any event, to be appealed along with the decision to revoke the company’s operator’s licence.”