Transport company fined following investigation

The director of a plastering company was killed when a pallet containing more than a tonne of render fell on top of him during a lorry delivery at premises in Devon.

Phillip Ring, 37, from Whitleigh, Plymouth, was hit by a falling pallet in the incident on 31 March 2009 at Yelverton Business Park, Crapstone, near Plymouth.

The incident led to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which included a review of the safety management arrangements by the delivery company, RR Transport Ltd of Redruth.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that the delivery that resulted in Mr Ring’s death should have been offloaded at a nearby construction site in Crapstone using a forklift truck or telehandler.  However, restrictions on access to the site and a lack of mechanical handling equipment meant the driver ended up unloading the pallet by hand at a nearby business park using the pallet truck and tail lift on his lorry.

At some point during the delivery, he lost control of the load and it fell from the tail lift, crushing Mr Ring who was standing on the road at the back of the vehicle.

Mr Ring suffered serious head injuries and died later at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.

RR Transport, who’s registered office is Peat House, Truro, was fined £22,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 in costs after pleading guilty to a breach of Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Jo Fitzgerald said:

“This was a tragic incident and it illustrates the significant risks involved in delivery operations.  Thinking through those risks in a structured way helps delivery firms identify what could go wrong and improve safety.

“While HSE does not say that RR Transport’s failings caused Mr Ring’s death, by failing to assess the risks properly the company did not have a number of important steps in place, which would have made their operation safer.  They did not have a clear, consistent system for drivers to follow for using tail lifts, the tail lifts on their vehicles had not had the thorough examinations required by law and they did not have a proper system for inspecting their pallet trucks.”

Further information on unloading vehicles can be found on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/vehicle.htm