UK port fined after worker dies from falling onto ship’s deck

Hartlepool Dock in Teesside has been fined more than £400,000 due to the fact that an agency worker died when he fell from height onto a steel deck.

59-year-old Robert Harrison was working with five other men to load steel pipes into a vessel at the dock.

Each of the pipes measured 12 metres long and had been arranged in a pile, which had not been secured.

However, the workers were standing on the stack, which grew in height as more pipes were added from a crane in the dock.

Mr Harrison fell from a height of eight metres and later died in hospital.

Following the incident, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation revealed that PD Teesport Ltd had breached safety regulations by failing to ensure the environment and work schedule was sufficient to protect its workers.

There were clearly gaps between the loading area and the vessel, which meant workers were at risk of falling through, and the company had done nothing to minimise the risk.

PD Teesport Limited was served with a fine of £400,000, and the company was also ordered to pay £107,684.40 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Cain Mitchell, a HSE inspector involved with the case, said: “Robert Harrison, a father of three, lost his life needlessly because of the failure by PD Teesport Ltd to put effective safety measures in place.

“This was a tragedy that could have very easily been prevented. The company should have properly assessed the risks and ensured appropriate measures were in place to reduce the risks of falling […].

“These precautions could have included the use of soft landing systems such as an air bag or cushion, which would have ensured no significant injury could result from a fall.”

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.