Haulage firm cleared over driver’s death

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Yell-based haulage firm R.S. Henderson has been found not guilty of failures in risk assessment and health and safety following the death of a forklift truck driver.

After a five-day trial at Lerwick Sheriff Court, jurors cleared the firm of any wrongdoing.

The trial  followed the death of Geoffrey Davies, 57, of Scraefield, Balliasta, Unst, who died of serious injuries when the forklift truck he was driving off the back of an R.S. Henderson lorry fell on top of him at Unst Shellfish Ltd of Baltasound on Saturday 13th February 2010. His 10 year old son was with him when the incident occurred and ran for help before a passing motorist stopped and called the emergency services.

It was too late and Mr Davies died from his injuries.

The haulage firm was accused of failing to provide – so far as reasonably practicable – the health, safety and wellbeing at work of one of its employees. It was also charged with failing to minimise risks to health and safety in relation to the collection and delivery of the forklift and, in particular the loading and unloading of the forklift onto a lorry.

Jurors had heard evidence about the incident and whether or not the proper procedures had been followed.

Director of the haulage firm Steven Henderson had told the court drivers would be given instruction on how to load and unload, what the load would be and what ferries would be booked for transportation.

The defence team said Mr Henderson had provided training to Mr Davies. There were health and safety procedures to be followed and assessments had taken place.

During the hearing at Lerwick Sheriff Court here was also expert evidence in relation to whether the forklift should have been lifted or driven from the lorry.

The jury of 10 men and five women spent about an hour debating the evidence before unanimously finding the firm not guilty of failing to provide a suitable and sufficient risk assessment.

 They also found the company not guilty by majority, for failing to minimise the risks to health and safety in relation to the collection and delivery of the forklift, in particular the loading and unloading of the forklift onto a lorry and failing to provide information, instruction and training to try to ensure the health and safety at work of Mr Davies.