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Scottish Coal fined £6,000 for crushed truck driver

  • 02 April 2013
  • By Roger Brown

Scottish Coal Company has been fined £6,000 after a driver suffered severe injuries at its site when a loading shovel reversed into his truck, trapping him between the tailgate and trailer.

In a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Lanark Sheriff Court was told how James Hunter, 63, who was employed by a subcontractor, had driven the 30-tonner to Scottish Coal’s Ravenstruther depot in November 2009.

Hunter was directed to a grid to tip his load by the weighbridge operator. After emptying his truck, Hunter drove towards the south-west corner of the yard so he could clear the tailgate of loose coal.

He walked to the rear of his vehicle, standing in the gap between the tailgate and the body of the trailer.

Although he was wearing a high-vis vest, he was obscured by the tailgate.Meanwhile, the shovel operator pushed the coal further into the grid before reversing his vehicle out of the way.

As he turned slightly to allow room for the next LGV to access the grid, the rear of the loading shovel collided with the tailgate of Hunter’s vehicle.

This pushed it back towards the trailer, pinning Hunter between it and the tailgate.

Hunter suffered severe injuries to the chest and abdomen, was in hospital for a month, and had to undergo surgery after developing a hernia.

He now suffers ongoing back pain, has difficulty walking and has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The HSE investigation found that although drivers occasionally had to remove coal debris to ensure their tailgates closed properly, Scottish Coal didn’t provide specific instructions on where they should stop safely and there should have been a designated area.

A risk assessment had been carried out and control measures introduced, including the use of a one-way system and reversing aids on the loading shovel.

However, it didn’t take into account that visiting drivers were allowed to dismount in the working area of the loading shovel, so there was a risk of collision between vehicles and pedestrians.

After the incident Scottish Coal provided a safe pedestrian/vehicle system, in which a designated area was set aside for drivers to get out of their vehicles safely.

The firm also began a trial of a radar system to warn of obstacles. The firm pleaded guilty to two offences of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.


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