A logistics company has been fined £2 million after the death of a worker at one of its depots.

The worker was at the rear of a lorry helping to unload goods when he became trapped between the vehicle and loading bay.

Unsafe system

The court heard the worker appeared to be trying to get the driver’s attention in the wing mirror. A wheel-locking device was said to have failed on a piece of equipment used to load and unload vehicles.

Council environmental health officers who brought the prosecution found the firm had not:

  • assessed the risks of loading and unloading container vehicles
  • put in place a safe system of work

The company had no specific risk assessment or safe system of work for ‘yard activities’ including the use of banksmen and reversing vehicles.

While the firm did have a written system of work for vehicles reversing into loading bays with extended buffers, it was stored in the operations office and not enforced.

There was also a lack of staff training.

Alarm bells

An earlier similar failing had been reported to management but the judge said managers ‘failed to take the responsibility to deal with it’.

At that point the judge said ‘alarm bells really, really should have been raised’. The tragedy was described as foreseeable and avoidable.

DHL Supply Chain Ltd admitted breaking the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It must also pay costs of £100,000.

The judge reiterated DHL should have carried out a risk assessment and provided staff with a safe system of work and training.

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