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ROAD SURFACING REVERSING TRUCK TRAGEDY

Council and contractor fined after fatal reversing of surfacing truck

Rotherham Council and Brocklebank & Co Ltd have been ordered to pay over £135k in fines and prosecution costs after the death of a workman who was crushed beneath the nearside wheels of the vehicle during road surfacing operations.

Council failed to ensure vehicle movements properly managed

Gordon Duffield, a council employee, was knocked down by an eight-wheeled tipper wagon operated by Brocklebank as it delivered asphalt to a site on Fitzwilliam Road, Rotherham, on 4 May 2007.

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council was fined £75k and ordered to pay over £18k costs whilst Brocklebank of Sheffield was fined £30k and ordered to pay £12k costs.

HSE Principal Inspector John Rowe said: “Mr Duffield’s death demonstrates all too clearly the need for the movement of workplace vehicles to be carefully managed so that employees and other pedestrians are not put at risk.

“The council had a duty to protect their employee. Yet, vehicle movements at the site were uncontrolled despite the fact that tipper wagons had to reverse the length of the site.

“No one was designated to direct the movement and unloading of the lorry. The council were also aware that the worker was partially deaf as a result of exposure to noise at work – but had made no assessment of his suitability to continue as a road worker.

Contractor failed to ensure driver visibility

He continued: “Similarly, the contractor in this case had failed to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect those at the site from the risk of being hit by a reversing vehicle.

In particular, instructions for the driver to do a 360 degree check were not communicated nor was CCTV fitted to eliminate the blind spot at the rear of the vehicle.”

Family hopes lessons will be learned after “horrific” loss

The family of Mr Duffield: “We can only hope that if anything positive can come out of the tragic circumstances we have found ourselves in, it is that lessons can be learned, and that lives can be saved through improved health and safety measures within companies and organisations in the same or similar industries.”

Comment

The HSE guidance on safe use of vehicles on construction sites is now available as a free pdf download.

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