Chris C Hazel Haulage boss fined after worker dragged into machine

The owner of a Shropshire haulage and shot-blasting business has been fined for safety failings after a worker’s hand was dragged into an unguarded machine.

In March 2013 John Bagley, who was working for Woofferton-based Chris C Hazel Haulage, suffered serious crush injuries when the leg of his overalls got caught in the machine’s drive mechanism. His hand was dragged into the machine as he tried to free himself.

Bagley’s right thumb was severed in the incident. He also fractured his upper arm, broke his lower arm, shattered his wrist and broke most of his fingers. Plates had to be inserted in his hand, and he required skin grafts to his hand and thigh, which had been gouged by the machine.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the business had not undertaken a proper risk assessment in relation to the machine, which was used to shot-blast solid fuel cooker parts.

Owner Christopher Hazel had not written down anything about the machine and he had not made employees aware of the significance of it not being fitted with a guard. The HSE said it was imperative that workers did not have access to moving parts.

Christopher Charles Hazel was fined £8,000 with £10,464.31 in costs at Shrewsbury Crown Court on 6 January, after pleading guilty to breaching the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 at a separate hearing on 5 November 2015.

At a previous hearing on 30 September 2015, Hazel was found not guilty of a charge under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

Chris C Hazel Haulage has an O-licence authorising up to eight vehicles and seven trailers across two sites in Woofferton and Moreton-on-Lugg, Hereford.

Operators warned to rethink drink-driving policies

Operators have always had a duty under O-licensing rules to take reasonable steps to ensure their drivers, not just vehicles, are not breaking the law. But with the UK government planning to crack down on drink and drug driving even harder, this responsibility has never been more pertinent.

Hauliers are urged to be more vigilant when it comes to testing their drivers for drugs and alcohol, despite there being no legal requirement to have an alcohol and drugs testing policy in place.

A law limiting the amount of illegal and prescribed drugs in a driver’s bloodstream came into force for the first time in England and Wales last year, prompting a lawyer to urge hauliers to update their policies on drugs and prescription medicine.

The blood alcohol limit for driving in in England and Wales – 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - has remained unchanged since 1966, but other provinces have recently tightened up the rules on the amount of alcohol drivers are allowed to consume. The legal limit in Scotland has been 50mg per 100ml of blood for all drivers since December 2014, and Northern Ireland will soon have a 20mg per 100ml blood alcohol limit in place for commercial drivers.

But the limit still remains much higher than for commercial drivers in other industries- train drivers and airline pilots have to adhere to a limit roughly a quarter of the current drink-driving limit in England and Wales. The limit in England and Wales is also much higher than most other EU countries.

So what should operators do to make sure they can cover themselves should a driver be caught breaking drink-driving laws? Even though there are no strict rules surrounding drug and alcohol tests in the workplace, employers have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure the health and safety of their employees. The employer would have committed an offence if they have allowed the consumption of alcohol or drugs to put others at risk.

The Transport Law Blog recommends that operators consider various methods of testing their staff, either by random checks or on a routine basis. Agreement from the workforce must be obtained before tests are made, and tests should also include those who operate heavy machinery- not just truck drivers.