Driver’s death leads to £150k fine for transport firm

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

 David Watson Transport Ltd was fined £150,000
David Watson Transport Ltd was fined £150,000
A Norfolk-based transport firm has been fined £150,000 for safety failings after a driver suffered life-changing injuries and later died two years after the accident in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire.

Keith Brookes, who was 59 at the time of the accident, from Milton Keynes, fell from a unsecured ladder while unloading a lorry at the Hertfordshire Golf and Country Club in November 2012.

He suffered extensive brain damage and a broken cheekbone, collarbone and ribs and was left in a permanent vegetative state. Brooks remained in a coma for four months and in hospital for a further two months, according to reports. After leaving hospital the driver needed palliative care in a nursing home and was unable to move, swallow or communicate. He died last year, at the age of 61, two years after the accident.

Failed to properly safeguard

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the driver’s employer, David Watson Transport Ltd, after its investigation revealed the firm had failed to properly safeguard workers from falls.

The haulage business was prosecuted for the failings at St Albans Crown Court.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Sandra Dias, said: “This fall was entirely preventable and resulted in an employee being left in a permanent vegetative state owing to a traumatic brain injury. It was, of course, devastating for his family and friends. Sadly, he died two years later.”

The risks of falling from height during unloading lorries is well known across the industry, said Dias. “There is absolutely no excuse for companies to neglect safety. David Watson Transport Ltd’s failure to adequately plan working at height and provide adequate supervision resulted in horrific injuries from which Mr Brookes never recovered.”

Fined a total of £150,000

David Watson Transport Ltd of Mundford Road, Weeting, Norfolk, was fined a total of £150,000 at St Albans Crown Court and ordered to pay costs of £88,030.69 after being found guilty to three counts of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

HSE information about preventing falls from vehicles is available here​.

Meanwhile, earlier this month the director of sandwich firm was fined £50,000​ and his firm £117,000 for safety failings. The prosecution at Leamington Crown Court followed injuries sustained by one of the firm’s workers when he was crushed between a forklift truck and a heavy goods vehicle.

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