Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

£300,000 Fine after Death of Driver
Posted by David Cant on January 15, 2013

A firm in the West Midlands has been given a £300,000 fine after one of their employees was killed in 2010. Russell Homer was working during his nightshift when he was killed by a runaway lorry. He was crushed as he worked to couple the trailer onto a tractor unit and he passed away due to the serious chest injury he suffered. The lorry came to a stop after crashing into a wall some 27 metres away from where Mr Homer was crushed. If the wall hadn’t stopped the lorry it would have continued onto a public road where more people could have been injured or killed.

Errors were known to the Employer but Ignored

The following investigation by the Health and Safety Executive discovered that there was an issue with the drivers and vehicles not complying with the rules set out by Nightfreight, the Northampton based firm. Drivers were failing to put the handbrake on to the tractor and they were failing to turn off the engines. This situation was known to the company but they failed to monitor the employees and oversee the work to ensure their rules were followed.

The investigation also showed that there weren’t any safety measures in place to control vehicles from rolling down the slope. The firm could have installed some bumps in the road or used chocks as a preventative control measure.

Large Fine after Pleading Guilty to Charges

Nightfreight were fined £300,000 at Northampton Crown Court on January 7 2013. The fine was made up of £270,000 for breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and £30,000 for breaching section 3(1). Nightfreight pleaded guilty to both charges.

The death of Mr Homer could have been avoided. The dangerous practice of leaving engines running and failing to apply the handbrakes was known by the company. Had they ensured all of the drivers were supervised and made to comply with the rules of the firm the incident may not have happened.  As a precaution the company should have also used safety measures to reduce the possibility of the vehicles rolling down the track.

Avoid Life Threatening Working Conditions with Excellent Health and Safety

When employees work with vehicles, or close to vehicles it’s vital to have appropriate safe measures and safe systems of work in place.  If you are concerned about your procedures being ignored it’s important to create a strong health and safety culture. Training and excellent health and safety management will help to ensure all rules are kept and workers are aware of the risks and the dangers that they face.

Speak to your health and safety consultants if you have any concerns. There are multiple health and safety services available for all industries. Speak to one of our team on 0800 1488 677.


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

This post has been filed in: Workplace Health and Safety

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