UK haulage company found negligent
Liverpool Crown Court in the UK has fined Freight First Ltd. £90,000 (AUD$140,000) for failing to put in place safety procedures and training that could have prevented the crushing death of an employee.
Tony Schulze, a 49-year-old trucking yard worker, was crushed to death in January 2011 after the cab he was asked to couple to a trailer rolled down the sloping yard and squeezed him against a truck. Colleagues attempted to rescue Schulze before emergency services could make it, but were unsuccessful.
The investigation uncovered lacking safety procedures and systems for the coupling and uncoupling of vehicles in the yard, as well as the handbrake not being applied in the incident. Basic safety practices, HSE inspector Adam McMahon says, could have protected Schulze who did not typically drive articulated vehicles.
“The case highlights the need for transport companies to ensure their employees have the corret training and should act on advice from health and safety experts to make sure safe systems of work are in place.”
Freight First Ltd had arranged a general risk assessment in May 2010 but failed to include vehicle coupling or runaway trailers and vehicles in the report.
“If Schulze had pulled the park brake button on the trailer when it started to move,” McMahon said, “then it would have activated the trailer brakes. However, there is no evidence to prove he had received training in coupling the HGVs, so may well not have known this.”
An independent health and safety adviser had raised concerns at the lack of risk assessment, in December 2010, one month prior to Schulze’s death. Freight First never acted on the assessment.