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Nightfreight fined £300,000 over driver depot death

  • 09 January 2013
  • By Roger Brown

Nightfreight (GB) has been fined £300,000 after one of its drivers was killed by a runaway truck at its depot in Northamptonshire.

In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Northampton Crown Court was told how Russell Homer, 44, had just started his night shift at the site in Doddington Road, Earls Barton, in December 2010 when the incident occurred.

He was crushed against a stationary vehicle when his own vehicle moved off while he was coupling the tractor unit to the trailer.After striking him the lorry continued to roll down a slope, travelling another 27 metres before crashing into a wall.Had the wall not stopped the vehicle, it may have rolled directly out onto a public highway, the court was told.

Homer, a father of two from Overstone, died at the scene from a serious chest injury.

An HSE investigation identified issues with Nightfreight drivers coupling up vehicles without following the firm’s rules. Itsreport said drivers were not applying the handbrake to the tractor unit or turning off the engine.

According to the organisation this practice was known to Nightfreight who failed to effectively monitor its employees and ensure they followed the correct, safe working procedure.

The investigation also found that there were no appropriate measures in place to prevent vehicles parked on the slope from rolling away, such as flattening it out, installing road bumps in front of the vehicle wheels, or using chocks.

Nightfreight (GB) pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.The company was fined £270,000 for the Section 2(1) charge and £30,000 for the Section 3(1) offence. It was also ordered to pay costs of £26,000.

A spokeswoman for Nightfreight’s parent company DX Group said: “Nightfreight deeply regrets any failings linked to Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) in the past, as well as the tragic repercussions that followed. 

“The company has taken relevant and extensive steps, endorsed by Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to remedy any past failings in this area.”


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