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*UPDATE* HGV driver killed by runaway vehicle

A road haulage company that was fined after an employee was crushed to death by a runaway lorry had failed to implement control measures after a previous near-miss, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector that led the investigation. 

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As previously reported by IOSH Magazine, heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver Martin Greenwood was killed on YCT’s site in Thurrock Parkway, Tilbury, Essex, on 20 October 2015. He was coupling his tractor unit cab to a trailer that a colleague had dropped off at the loading bay in the early hours of that morning, HSE inspector Jessica Churchyard said. 

As he was winding up the trailer’s landing legs, the entire vehicle started to roll forward. Greenwood, who at the time was standing near the rear of the trailer on the passenger’s side, ran around the front of the lorry in what the HSE assumed was an attempt to climb into the cab to stop it moving. However, it crashed into another parked vehicle, fatally crushing Greenwood between them. 

The HSE said that YCT had not implemented a safe system of work for coupling and uncoupling and there were no monitoring arrangements to ensure drivers were carrying out the procedures in accordance with industry guidance, Safe Coupling and Uncoupling (bit.ly/2gdppFa). 

It found that the manual parking brakes on the trailer had not been deployed when it was dropped off at the loading bay on the day of the accident. In addition to that, Greenwood had not applied the handbrake before exiting the cab.  

Churchyard said a culture had developed within the organisation whereby workers did not always apply the brakes. “We spoke to a number of drivers and we found that several of them were reporting not using these manual trailer parking brakes regularly,” she said. 

After the accident YCT reviewed its risk assessment and put in place a safe system of work for the coupling and uncoupling of trailers, which management began to routinely oversee under a new “robust” monitoring system. They also undertook parking brake spot checks.

In 2014 – a year before Greenwood’s death – a tractor unit had rolled forward after another of YCT’s drivers had not applied the handbrake. Churchyard said:  “Luckily in this case no one was hurt but the company didn’t take any measures to ensure that this wasn’t a site-wide issue. There was no review of coupling and uncoupling procedures in light of this near-miss.” 

YCT pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Though it had ceased trading before court proceedings began, District Judge Woolard fined it £170,000 at Southend Magistrates’ Court on 5 October, with costs of almost £6,270.

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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