11 January 2013
Fatal accident to lead to damages?
The family of a man who passed away during a fatal accident at work could decide to seek compensation on his behalf.
Russell Homer died at the age of 44 in December 2010 while working a night shift at premises owned by haulage firm Nightfreight (GB) in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire, when he was crushed in between two trucks.
Mr Homer had just arrived at work and was fatally injured when his own vehicle moved off while he was attaching its tractor unit to a trailer, consequently pressing him up against another stationary lorry.
An investigation conducted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that after hitting the professional, the truck then rolled a distance of 27 metres down a slope and crashed into a wall.
The worker died at the scene of the incident due to the extent of his chest injuries and the HSE established that Nightfreight was overseeing a system of work that was unsafe as its drivers were failing to abide by rules and regulations.
For instance, hauliers regularly attached trailers to their vehicles without switching off the engine or applying the handbrake - a practice company bosses were well aware of, but failed to take action to rectify.
In addition, there were no preventative measures in place to stop vehicles positioned on the slope from rolling away and, during a case heard at Northampton Crown Court, Nightfreight admitted breaching two clauses of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
As such, the organisation was fined a total of £300,000 for its negligence, meaning Mr Homer's family could now opt to take civil action.
Judith McNulty-Green, inspector at the HSE, said the professional's death had been "entirely preventable".
"It happened because of a poor and dangerous practice that the company was aware of but did nothing to stop. Appropriate controls should also have been in place to ensure vehicles did not roll away," she added.
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Posted by Francesca Witney