Local haulier fined £10,000

A COURT has been told how a lorry load of timber came loose and swept over a car

A COURT has been told how a lorry load of timber came loose and swept over a car "like a wave" killing an elderly couple pinned in the crushed wreckage.

The occupants of two other cars were also injured on the A7 near Langholm in April of last year.

Selkirk haulage contractor Elliot Henderson was fined 10,000 at Dumfries Sheriff Court on Monday for breaching Health and Safety laws.

Lorry driver Andrew Alison of Heather Court, Galashiels, who admitted driving an overloaded lorry with an insecure load, was fined 350.

As a director result of the incident the Health and Safety Executive has begun a review with a view to making the regulations more clear.

Former joiner David Wylie, 77, and his 79-year-old wife Sarah died just a few miles from their home at Evertown near Canonbie.

Two other drivers Malcolm Monkhouse and John Home together with a passenger Melanie Horne were injured.

Henderson, 42, of Broomhill Farm, near Selkirk, admitted charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

He admitted putting the public at risk by his haulage activities because he did not ensure that the system of strapping cross-loaded round wood logs onto flatbed trailers complied with the minium standards set out in the Code of Practice issued by the Roundwood Haulage Working Party,

He also pleaded guilty to failing to provide his workers with the necessary instruction, training and supervision to ensure a safe system for securing logs.

Procurator Fiscal Pamela Rhodes said the couple who were killed outright had been heading into Langholm with the loaded lorry approaching from the opposite direction when the logs cascaded "in a wave" onto their car.

She stressed that there was no suggestion of bad driving - simply that the straps had been insufficient to hold the load of timber.

Henderson s advocate Paul Gray said that in an industry "fraught with potential dangers" the firm had never been involved in an accident and that his client was "respected for his responsible attitude towards safety."

It was accepted by the Crown, said the Advocate, that the regulations had not been deliberately flouted.

Said the Advocate: "He adopted a practice which he had seen widely used by other hauliers throughout the industry. His experience had shown that the number of straps used in the past had been sufficient."

Fiscal Rhodes told the court that an investigation was carried out by the Health and Safety Executive and while the Code of Practice had not been adhered to, the Executive was not itself fully satisfied with the Code and it was currently being re-examined.

Mr Gray said the Code at the heart of the problem had been "widely criticised within the industry" and, he believed by the Safety Executive itself.

The Sheriff was told that as a result of the accident Henderson now employed a full time Health and Safety Officer and joined an organisation which inspects company s activities to ensure health and safety compliance. A spokesman for the H&SE confirmed that after the Langholm deaths they had canvassed fresh research into how wood was carried which could lead to new guidelines, a fresh code or amended Road Traffic Act regulations.

He added: "There was a feeling that perhaps the present code was too vague and could be made clearer."

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