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FALLING CONCRETE PANEL CRUSHED LORRY DRIVER

Panel designer, manufacturer and haulier held to account for death

Three companies involved in the design, manufacture and transportation of concrete panels have been prosecuted after a vehicle driver died when a concrete panel fell from a lorry in January 2011.

Derby Crown Court heard how Travis Hale, aged 45, was employed as a driver by Punchards Haulage Limited (Punchards) to transport a load of four concrete panels from Derby to a construction site in Edinburgh. The panels had been designed by VTK Structures Limited (VTK) and manufactured by Hanson Packed Products Limited (Hanson).

When Mr Hale arrived to collect the loaded trailer from Hanson’s yard, three vehicle straps supplied by Punchards were used to secure the load.

Shortly after starting his journey Mr Hale was contacted and asked to pull over to check his load. He was joined by employees from VTK (designers of the panels) who advised him to fit more straps. When Mr Hale released one of the existing straps, a panel weighing approximately one and a half tonnes fell from the trailer causing his death.

Effective cooperation required

HSE investigators found that the number of straps over the load were insufficient to safely secure the load for transport. All three companies should have cooperated to ensure that a safer means of securing concrete panels on the trailer were used.

  • Punchards Haulage Limited of Staffordshire was fined a total of £140,000, and ordered to pay costs of £37,016 after pleading guilty to an offence under S.2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
  • VTK Structures Limited of Horsham was fined a total of £140,000, and ordered to pay costs of £37,016 after pleading guilty to an offence under S.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
  • Hanson Packed Products Limited (Formerly known as Hanson Building Products Limited), of Castle Hill, Maidenhead, was fined a total of £80,000, and ordered to pay costs of £37,016 after pleading guilty to an offence under Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Stuart Parry said:

“Mr Hale was a devoted family man, well-known in his local community, and his sudden death impacted on many lives.

VTK and Punchards should have provided Mr Hale and other drivers with better means of securing panels, such as Toast racks or A frames. They did not do so and this failing led to the tragic death of Mr Hale.”

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