Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Driver Suffocated By Straw Bale
Posted by David Cant on March 11, 2011

A delivery driver was suffocated after a huge straw bale weighing 700kg fell onto him at a renewable energy plant.  The accident occurred at the Elean Power Station which is located in Cambridgeshire.  The driver, Gary Darnell, was delivering a batch of straw bales to the biomass plant. As the bales were being removed from the lorry by a crane, one fell off the lift crushing Mr Darnell below.

Investigation Proved Health and Safety Flaws

Mr Durnell’s death was recorded as mechanical asphyxiation and although the details are unclear about the events leading up to the accident the Health and Safety Executive were clear that it could have been avoided.  Gavin Bull. The investigating officer stated that the accident would not have happened if Mr Darnell had not been standing close to the lift.

Mr Bull pointed out several failings in the company’s health and safety procedures. There should have been a system in place which kept workers away from the areas which were unsafe.  The investigation showed that the crane driver who was lifting the bales off the lorry was not able to see Mr Darnell as he stood below.  Mr Bull stated that there needs to be some kind of system in place which would assist the crane driver so he is more aware of people close by.  This could involve using a banks man or a CCTV to ensure all loading and unloading is performed safely.

Company Pleaded Guilty

During the court case at Cambridgeshire Crown Court the plant agreed that they had failed to ensure that their workers were kept safe.  They were found to be in breach of sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.  The court fined the company £120,000 and additional costs of £30,735.  Energy Power Resources, the parent company of the Elean Power Station also operates five other large plants which supply 10% of the renewable electricity for the UK.

Health and Safety Training

It is vital that risk assessments are carried out in the work place to ensure accidents like the one that resulted in the death of Mr Darnell are avoided.  There is health and safety training courses which can help your company prevent breaches in the regulations which are in place.  Training is there for everyone whether you are the owner, a manager or an employee.

Training courses can go over areas such as first aid, asbestos, CDM 2007, and general health and safety training.   Other subjects which are covered include risk assessment and method statements, site managers training and control of contractors.

These courses supplied by Veritas Health and Safety consultants are available in Birmingham and the surrounding areas.  They help to make sure that company owners and employees understand what the legal requirements are, and how to create a safe working environment.  In-house training is available or you can pick a venue for the courses to take place.  All of the courses are run by fully qualified health and safety consultants, and delegates will be awarded with certificates to show they attended the course.

Contact us today free on 0800 1488 677 to discover more about our health and safety training courses.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

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