A QUARRY firm has been fined £200,000 over the death of a 76-year-old driver who accidentally reversed a dumper truck over the edge of a steep drop.
Joseph Troup died while working at the Hatton Mill Quarry, Angus, in July 2012 after 18 years with D Geddes (Contractors) Ltd.
Mr Troup’s loaded 35-tonne vehicle overran an inadequate stop block while he was working at the quarry in Kinnell, Friockheim.
Mr Troup, from Padanaram, Angus, was not wearing a seatbelt and was killed instantly when the massive machine plunged down the slope.
Investigations revealed he may have made a frantic attempt to engage a forward gear to extricate the vehicle.
The company, which previously had an unblemished safety record, spoke of its grief over the death of a man it said was both an employee and a close friend.
Expressing the company’s “deep and sincere regret that this accident took place”, a spokesman said: “Joe Troup was not only an employee but a close friend of both Frank and Neil Geddes. He will be sorely missed by all.”
Forfar Sheriff Court yesterday heard it appeared Mr Troup had “inadvertently” put the truck into reverse. The reverse lever was side by side with the tipping lever and the dumper fell backwards on to the quarry floor below.
The stop block at the quarry edge was too shallow and there was also a build-up of tipped material in front of it, creating a ramp rather than a safety barrier, the court heard.
Mr Troup was not wearing a seatbelt and was pitched out of his seat, coming to rest behind it and suffering significant injuries to the back of his head. He was removed from the cab by firefighters but his death was said to have been “instantaneous”.
The company pleaded guilty to contravening the 1999 Quarries Regulations section of the Health and Safety at Work Act and admitted failing to construct and maintain an adequate stop block above the input hopper of the processing plant to stop a fully-loaded, heavy vehicle from overrunning.
Defence solicitor Ann Bonomy said there had been a combination of factors including Mr Troup putting the dumper truck in reverse and failing to wear a seatbelt.
However, she said the company accepted that an adequate stop block may have prevented the vehicle from ever tipping into the quarry.
Sheriff Gregor Murray said there had been a number of failures and the company had fallen short of its obligations.
He said: “The fine must reflect public disquiet over the loss of a life.”
Mr Troup’s widow and family were in court but declined to comment following the verdict.
Sheriff Murray gave the firm 24 months to pay the fine.
Health and Safety Executive 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.”