Geddes fined £200,000 for quarry death

A Scottish quarry operator has been fined £200,000 after the elderly driver of an articulated dump truck died when his vehicle reversed over a stop block and plunged to the quarry floor below.

Joseph Troup, (76), from Forfar had worked for D Geddes (Contractors) at its Hatton Mill sand and gravel quarry in Froickheim for 18 years when the accident happened in July 2012.

Forfar Sheriff Court heard Mr Troup had transported material in his 35-tonne truck from the extraction face to the processing plant’s input hopper and began tipping the load. The assistant quarry manager heard the revving of the truck but as he looked up he saw the rear wheels on the metal bars which cover the top of the hopper and realised it was reversing over the hopper and that the truck body was not raised.

As it reversed, the rear of the truck rolled beyond the end of the metal bars and fell backwards on to the quarry floor. Mr Troup was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from his seat as the vehicle fell backwards. He died instantly as a result of head injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) was unable to identify the exact reason for the vehicle reversing. Mr Troup may have inadvertently pulled the gear lever into the reverse position when attempting to pull the tipping lever, since the two levers are side by side. The vehicle was able to move because the parking brake had not been applied.

HSE found the stop block above the input hopper at the time was ineffective in stopping the reversing truck because of a combination of insufficient height and the ramping of sand and gravel used in its construction. The metal stop block and the compacted material on top measured 41cm; during the investigation, the built-up material was removed and the ground in front of the block was dug out to reveal its full height of 63cm, which would have prevented the truck from accidentally being reversed.

Geddes was fined £200,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6 of The Quarries Regulations (as amended) 1999.

Following the case, HSE inspector Richard Noble said: “The task of reversing a heavy vehicle to the stop block of an input hopper of a processing plant is an inherently dangerous one. D Geddes (Contractors) Ltd should have identified the risk of the vehicle reversing over the input hopper stop block and the driver being injured, or killed, and ensured measures were in place to prevent this from happening.

“There is well-established guidance available on safe tipping at quarries, which if followed, would have prevented this tragic incident.”

Article posted 15/2/2015