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HSE prosecutes Port company following death of employee

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued a warning to employers following a fatal incident where a dock worker was struck by a reversing vehicle.

Associated British Ports of Holborn, London, the largest port operator in the UK was fined £266,000 and ordered to pay costs of just under £75,000, at Ipswich Magistrate’s Court today (Monday 21 September) after pleading guilty to breaching section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

HSE is warning companies that they must make sure the interaction between vehicles and pedestrians are properly assessed and adequate measures put in place to reduce the risk. This includes the need to have clear rules, properly-trained banksmen and drivers who understand the method of work being used.

The incident took place on 30 March 2007 when Brian Vince, a 60-year-old cargo handler from Ipswich was working as a ramp man servicing a roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) ferry at the Port of Ipswich. Mr Vince was standing on the bridge between the ferry and the quayside (also called the ‘linkspan’), coordinating vehicles on and off the ferry when he was struck by a reversing trailer. Mr Vince died at the scene.

The company was prosecuted for failing to ensure that persons in their employment were not exposed to risk and failed to ensure the provision and implementation of a safe system of work for the ro-ro operation.

HSE Inspector Kaitav Patel said:"This is another example of a fatal incident that could and should have been prevented. The company had identified the risks to the ramp man, yet failed to prevent him being in a position of danger behind a reversing vehicle.

“Workplace transport is not specific to the docks industry and many other industries can learn lessons from this tragic incident. Employers in all industries must ensure that the interaction between moving vehicles and pedestrians in the workplace is managed properly.

“There is plenty of advice and guidance available to help comply with the law and keep people safe when working with transport.

“HSE will not hesitate to take action against any business with this level of responsibility that fails to comply with the law.”