Keep Legal

£1.5m fine for Tuffnells Parcels after trailer rollaway death

Parcel delivery firm Tuffnells Parcels Express has been fined over the death of one of its drivers who sustained fatal crush injuries when he became trapped between a lorry tractor and a trailer in West Midlands.

During his nightshift on 22 January 2016, Leighton Jardine was coupling his vehicle to the trailer – known as a “wagon and drag” – which was parked on a 3-degree downward-facing slope at a depot in Brierley Hill, Dudley. The trailer rolled forward and trapped Jardine between it and the rear of the vehicle.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found safety management arrangements for coupling trailers had failed to take account of the slope.

HSE inspector Karl Raw, who led the investigation, told IOSH Magazine that about two years before the accident happened the area where the trailer had been left was marked as a no-parking zone with cross-hatched yellow box road markings to allow vehicles to move safely around the depot. However, “it was a nightly occurrence that this trailer or a trailer of this type was parked there to be picked up; management had never addressed this issue at all over a period of years”.

Though Tuffnells had carried out generic risk assessments – Raw noted “this certainly wasn’t a systemic failure” – it had failed to consider site-specific factors.

Raw served a notification of contravention on Tuffnells, which immediately notified its 37 nationwide depots to ensure alternative arrangements are in place to avoid vehicles and trailers being parked on sloped areas.

Tuffnells Parcels Express pleaded guilty at the early opportunity to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

In his summing up, the judge said set the starting point fine at £2.25m before taking into consideration the company’s early guilty plea and remedial action.

Tuffnells, which reported turnover of £183.8m for 2017 and was classed as a large organisation under the sentencing guidelines, was fined £1.5m ordered to pay £32,823 costs.

Raw said: “Had Tuffnells taken the slope into account, simple measures could have been taken that would have prevented this incident. It is also a reminder that the slope a vehicle is parked on does not need to be steep for incidents to occur.

“This was a tragic and wholly avoidable incident, caused by the failure of the company to adopt robust management action in both planning and monitoring of the workplace and workplace actions at this site.”

Tufnells provides business to business delivery services to companies including Evans Cycles, Toyota and tyre manufacturer Yokohama.

Article From IOSH Magazine


Leave a Comment