A transport company was fined £80,000 after one of its employees died when he was buried under tonnes of wheat being unloaded from a lorry.
The man was working at Transpan (Scotland) Limited’s Tore Mill site, Inverness, when the incident happened. A digger was needed to scoop out eight to 10 tonnes of wheat before finding him; he was unconscious and attempts were made to resuscitate him, but he died at the scene.
Investigations by HSE inspectors discovered a bungee-style cord was positioned over the controls that were meant to be operated only by hand – a system which ensured the operator was away from the tail section as the hydraulics lifted it up.
Inverness Sheriff Court heard that the tipper was already in the process of rising before he had finished opening the catches on the back door, which then burst open.
Transpan (Scotland) Limited, a company that transports animal feed, pleaded guilty charges under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
The HSE inspector commented that the risks were entirely foreseeable. Transpan could easily have supervised drivers on site.
The HSE investigation found that the bungees or elasticated cords on the tipping control had been on there for some time and there were other devices – such as pieces of wood and plastic pipe – that were used to defeat the safety function on other lorries.
If such devices had been prevented from being used then the driver could not have gone behind his lorry when it was tipping upwards. Clearly, he would not then have been put in a position of risk and this unfortunate event could have been avoided.