• Robert Spicer

Hartlepool Dock death fall: £400,000 fine

Fall death: £400,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v PD Teesport Ltd (2015) Teesside Crown Court, November 23

PD Teesport Ltd has been fined following the death of an agency worker in a fall.

Significant points of the case

  • Robert Harrison, an agency worker, was working at Hartlepool Dock in September 2012. He was loading 12 metre steel pipes into the hold of a vessel at PD Teesport Ltd.

  • He and his colleagues were standing on top of a stack of pipes which increased in height as more pipes were loaded into the hold, using a dockside crane to lift and lower them into position.

  • Mr Harrison fell from the exposed edge of the stack of the pipes. He fell eight metres to the steel deck of the hold and suffered fatal injuries.

  • There were exposed edges at either end of the pipes, between the ends of the pipes and the bulkhead of the vessel. The company had not provided appropriate measures to prevent or minimise the risks from falls.

The company was fined £400,000 plus £107,000 costs for a breach of section 3, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees.

An HSE inspector is reported to have commented after the case that the company should have properly assessed the risk and ensured that appropriate measures were in place to reduce the risks of falling. The risk of a fall from an eight-meter stack of pipes was obvious. The precautions could have included the use of soft landing systems, for example an air bag or cushion which would have ensured that no significant injury could result from a fall.

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