Two firms fined after driver suffers severe head injuries

Two companies have admitted breaching health and safety regulations after a truck driver suffered serious head injuries when he fell during a loading operation.

Mold Magistrates’ Court was told that a driver employed by Hughes Specialised Transport was knocked to the ground while helping load large coils of insulated pipe onto a curtain-sided trailer in August 2013.

The incident occurred at customer Rehau’s site in Tanygrisiau, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd.

The coils were being loaded on to the truck on their edge, rather than flat, by a forklift truck. The driver who was helping had to be close to the suspended load in order to place chocks of timber for support before the coils could be secured.

As the forklift truck driver lifted a coil, the load toppled and knocked the unnamed HGV driver to the floor of the yard.

He suffered several fractures to his skull, a traumatic brain injury and needed an operation to remove a blood clot.

The HGV driver had only recently been employed by the operator, which has an O-licence authorising 12 vehicles and 12 trailers.

The Health and Safety Executive found that the method the companies had used to lift the coils onto the trailer had not been risk assessed, and co-operation and communication between the two parties for what was considered to be a high-risk operation had not been sufficient.

Following the accident, plastic product manufacturer Rehau now uses purpose-built stillages to load the coils at ground level before they are put onto a trailer, which will avoid the need for working at height.

The case was referred to Caernarfon Crown Court for sentencing on 23 December.

Rehau, of Hill Court, Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £60,000.

Hughes Specialised Transport, of Manod Road, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd, also pleaded guilty and was fined £6,000.
Both companies must pay an equal share of the total costs of £8,368.

  • This article was published in the 14 January issue of Commercial Motor. Why not subscribe?